Little Mermaid statue in Denmark painted red in whale-hunting protest

Red paint covers  the vandalized tourist attraction The Little Mermaid in Copenhagen Tuesday May 30 2017. Copenhagen's famed Little Mermaid statue was found doused with red paint Tuesday.

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — Danish officials Tuesday hosed down Copenhagen’s famed Little Mermaid after the statue was found doused with red paint.

On the ground in front of the statue was written in red, in English, “Denmark defend the whales of the Faroe Islands” — likely a reference to the drive hunting of pilot whales in the North Atlantic islands during the summer months, Danish media say.

Authorities on the Faroe Islands allow islanders to drive herds of pilot whales into shallow waters where they are stabbed to death. The meat and blubber are shared afterward in the noncommercial slaughter, a practice that dates from the late 16th century. The whales are not an endangered species.

Island officials say that the pilot whale population in the eastern North Atlantic is abundant with about 778,000 whales and about 100,000 around the Faroe Islands. Islanders hunt and kill on average 800 pilot whales each year.

The Little Mermaid was created by Danish sculptor Edvard Eriksen in tribute to the Danish storyteller Hans Christian Andersen. Sitting on a rock at the entrance of the Copenhagen harbor since 1913, she also been a popular target for vandals, who have blown her off her perch, beheaded her, and painted her.

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