Faroe Islands: Message from the Sea
AIRED ON PBS JUNE 26, 2007 | CHECK LISTINGS arrow

SLIDESHOW Island Life

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LIFE, CULTURE AND TRADITIONS

In this photo essay, FRONTLINE/World producer Monica Lam looks beneath the surface of Faroese life.

PHOTOS: Greg Niemeyer

I went to the Faroe Islands in the summer of 2006 with my husband, Greg, and our younger daughter, Medina, then 9 months old. Greg is an artist and photographer, and he took all the photos in this essay, as well as supported our production team by driving us around the islands and striking deals with the locals for fresh fish.

We came here to learn about methyl mercury levels in pilot whales and how the growing tide of research about the impacts of mercury is affecting the culture here, where pilot whale is commonly eaten. To the Faroese, the pilot whale is at the center of much community life, not only because it can make up to a third of a family's diet, but because of the old traditions surrounding the hunt itself. I wasn't sure that we would get to see a whale hunt; we were outsiders and the protests against whale hunting aimed at the Faroese during the 1980s had made many of the islands' locals wary of strangers with cameras.

THE FAROE ISLANDS AND NEIGHBORING COUNTRIES