Wildlife of the Faroe Islands
The Faroes are eighteen North Atlantic islands located northwest of Scotland and halfway between Iceland and Norway. Since 1948 they have been an autonomous region of Denmark with their own parliament, flag and official national language. Known for their towering cliffs and mountainous terrain, these islands offer a unique opportunity to hike through some of Europe’s most unspoilt landscapes, explore traditional fjordside villages, cycle around remote valleys or watch the 300 or so species of birds.
450 km (279 miles) southeast of Iceland and 322 km (200 miles) northwest of Shetland lie the Faroes, home to about 48.000 people (and 70.000 sheep)
There are an estimated 2 million pairs of birds on the Faroe Islands. The largest change in recent times was the huge invasion of the Fulmars in the early 19th century. Fluctuations in the seabird populations stem from a variety of natural causes, and in general the populations have seen a decrease since the late 1950s. In the 1980s and early 1990s there was a scarcity of food in the seas around the Faroe Islands.
Residents of the Faroe Islands, an autonomous province of Denmark, slaughter and eat pilot whales every year, as these photos graphically depict. The Faroese are descendents of Vikings, and pilot whales have been a central part of their diet for more than 1,000 years. They crowd these intelligent animals into a bay and kill them, cutting the dorsal area through to the spinal cord. In the process, their main arteries get cut. As you can see, the waters in the bay turn bright red from all the blood
- Naturally, there were no Amphibians found in the Faroe Islands. But recently Frogs (Rana temporaria) have been introduced to Faroe, and are breeding successfully on Nólsoy.
- One finding of a young Toad (Bufo bufo) hibernating on Eysturoy has been recorded in 2006. Most likely a lost pet.
- Flies, Moths, Spiders, Beetles, Slugs, Snails, Earthworms and other small Invertebrates are part of the indigenous fauna of the Faroe Islands.
- More recent introductions are the New Zealand flatworm, the Spanish slug, and the Common Wasp which all have become part of the natural fauna.
- Cockroaches, Black garden ants, Pharaoh ants and Burgundy snails have also been found, but it’s not clear if they have become part of the established fauna.