The culprits sprayed red paint on the statue, which sits on a rock by the waterside in the Danish capital, and left a message for authorities.
"Danmark [sic.], defend the whales of the Faroe Islands" was spray painted on the pavement in front of the monument.
The vandalism did not deter the usual stream of selfie-keen tourists from stopping by the mermaid. Photo: Ida Marie Odgaard/Scanpix
Copenhagen police confirmed the incident on Twitter, writing "The Little Mermaid was targeted by vandalism. We are on the case".
Godmorgen derude. Den Lille Havfrue har været udsat for hærværk ( rød maling ) vi er på sagen. Hav en fortsat god dag. #politi.dk— Københavns Politi (@KobenhavnPoliti) May 30, 2017
The Faroe Islands, a Danish autonomous archipelago in the North Atlantic, has a tradition of trapping mainly pilot whales in a bay or a fjord and killing them with long knives, an act called the "grindadrap".
A representative from environmental organisation Sea Shepherd told the Politiken newspaper that the anti-whaling activist group had no connection to the act, but that he sympathised with the written message left by the culprits.
“We understand if people think we are behind this. But we do not support sabotage,” Lukas Erichsen said.
The organisation recently called for the EU to lean on Denmark for what it called “facilitating” the Faroes whaling tradition.
Erichsen said that his organisation had collected 135,000 signatures in a petition to be sent to the EU.
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Carl Christian Ebbesen, Danish People’s Party representative and head of Copenhagen Municipality’s culture and leisure committee, told broadcaster DR that he was “offended” by the act of vandalism.
“National treasures like this should be left well alone. Regardless of whether it’s vandalism of politically motivated, this is well out of line,” Ebbesen said.
“I am not going to get involved in what political opinions people have. Vandalising the Little Mermaid is as stupid as you can possibly get,” he continued.
The bronze mermaid statue represents a character from a classic tale by the Danish author Hans Christian Andersen.
It has been vandalised several times over the last few decades. The mermaid's head was stolen in 1964 and 1998 and her arm was cut off in 1984.
Previous vandalism of the Little Mermaid statue. Photos: Missing arm: Brian Bergmann/Scanpix, 1984; head removed: Bjarne Lüthcke/Scanpix, 1964.
She has been sprayed with paint before and thrown into the sea several times. In 2004, her head was covered with a burqa in protest against Turkey's application to become a member of the European Union.
Ebbesen told DR that he was confident that police would find the culprit of the latest act of vandalism, but felt that preventative measures against such acts should be considered for the long term.
“There is no doubt that video surveillance is a tool that police should consider to ensure that a national treasure like the Little Mermaid is not subjected to this type of vandalism,” he said.
Work to clean the mermaid was already well underway Tuesday morning. Photo: Ida Marie Odgaard/Scanpix
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