The unique conservation research vessel Song of the whale has returned to Icelandic waters to carry out vital, non-invasive research on whales and their behaviour. The vessel is owned by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) and is cooperating with the University of Iceland this summer.
Song of the Whale is now docked here in Reykjavík's old harbour and tomorrow (Friday 3 August) the researchers and the IFAW team will welcome guests on board from 14:00-17:00. This is a unique opportunity to take a look at the vessel, meet the researchers and learn about their research.
From IFAW's website:
The vessel is many things: research centre, outreach vehicle, floating classroom and global ambassador for whale conservation. It travels around the world and across the oceans on a unique mission to protect whales from harm and save whale species from extinction.
The research conducted from Song of the Whale plays a particularly important role. By carrying out population assessments, perfecting surveying techniques and developing technologies that may help save whale species from extinction, Song of the Whale is proving to be one of the most effective non-invasive whale research vessels in the world.
The team on board has a wealth of expertise and experience in marine conservation and are available to work with researchers or industry to facilitate their own conservation research requirements
A picture on Song of the Whale on the field observing the pilot whales off Akranes last Monday (taken by Lukas Kindermann)
We have good news about the Pilot Whales of yesterdays rescue mission. We have been seeing them on our tours today roughly in the same area but a lot further from land and they seem to be more relaxed and feeding as there were many gannets plunging into the water around them. We are happy to see that they are all safe and sound and enjoying life again lets hope that this continues.
Yes ladies and gentlemen the weather may have been rough today but those brave whale watchers that joined us for the 13:00 and 14:00 whale watching tours were rewarded by seeing a breaching minke whale!
It is truly something seeing these magnificent creatures bringing at least 40% of their body from the water, and indeed the breach of a large whale is considered to be the most powerful action performed by any animal. It produces large splashes upon reentry into the water, which can be visible many kilometers away.
Its fair to say that any observer of cetacean gets excited to see a breaching whale and we all ponder the moment when we're the lucky ones. It is especially exciting to see the minke whale breach as it is not a frequent breacher. Over the years we have though been lucky enough to see the minke whales breach every now and but we felt it has been more frequent lately than before. These are the minke whale breaches we've seen this summer:
21 July at 13:00 & 14:00
8 July at 17:00
5 July at 20:30
3 July at 9.00
29 June at 20:30
13 June at 17:00 and 20:30
4 June at 10:00
Additionally we've seen humpback whales and dolphins breach / leap, but it is a much more commonly seen behavior amongst those than the minke whales.
As interesting as it is to see the breach it gets many wondering why the cetacean breach. Scientists have still not answered the question fully but there are few theories out there. One is that it is may help the animals when feeding by scaring, stunning, herding or trapping fish or other prey while another suggest that breaching is a form of communication. Breaching is then considered to be a signal of aggression, annoyance, an act of defiance or courtship or a display of strength by males. Some also consider it a simple playful act whereas other believe it to benefit the whale by stretching of its body, giving it a better view above the surface or helping them inhaling water-free air in rough weather.
Over the years we have most often seen the breaching minke whales in rougher weathers like today, suggesting that the water-free breathing could be the explanation for the breach. Who knows though maybe its a mixture of all of the factors mentioned above. If you want to read more about breaching whales we suggest to you the Encyclopedia of Marine Mammals.
It can be quite tricky getting a photo of the magnificent moment when the whales breach. To day passenger Jeannette Kobelt from Switzerland caught a nice photo of the minke whale and the splash it made. She was nice enough to share theses photos with us so we could share it with you :)
Are you on your way to the old harbour? Why don't you stop by at the Elding Bistro where we offer a wide selection of light courses for a reasonable price. It opens at 7 o'clock in the morning for early risers, but don't worry if you like to stay in bed a little longer as we serve breakfast until 11:30. It is also ideal for lunch and snacks during the day. We offer free WiFi for our guests and we're happy to answer all kinds of questions you might have.
The bistro is placed on Geirsgata 9 and is the first house that welcomes you in the old harbour area. The house has an interesting history and has served for many purposes since it was built in 1962. It was originally built to serve fishermen and workers in the area with an area for lodgings and more. Later there was a nursing home in the building and after the Westman Island volcanic eruption (1973) the islanders got the facilities for their use. In 2005 the first floor was turned into a restaurant and has served as once since. Today you also find in the building our offices, ASK architects and on the top floor the Icelandic Tourist Board.
We hope to see you in the bistro soon,
The Elding team at the Bistro
As the weather condition is not looking good for whale watching in Faxaflói we're offering tours from Grindavík today (Friday 13 July) and most likely tomorrow (Saturday 14 July). The wind is blowing from the northwest and the area south of Grindavík is much better for whale watching since Reykjanes peninsula gives good shelter. We have had many great tours from Grindavík in the past with frequent sightings of Orca/Killer Whales. This morning when our crew was moving the boat to Grindavík they came upon two pods of Orca/Killer whales so we have high expectations for the tours today.
Today our departes are:
9:00 from Reykjavík
10:00 from Reykjavík with bus to the boat in Grindavík
13:00 from Reykjavík with bus to the boat in Grindavík
17:00 from Reykjavík with bus to the boat in Grindavík
The duration of the tours from Grindavík is longer because of the driving back and forth so our guests could expect to be back around 4-5 hours later. The pick up times are still the same as before and the drop off right after return to Reykjavík.
We have limited space on our busses so it is important to book a space on the tour! Guests can also meet us in Grindavík, but it is still important to book to make sure that there is enough space.
Viđey Island is full of fun and next on the summer program is a family event that goes under the name The day of the Settlers, treasure hunt and kites.
We have teamed up with the scout group Frumbyggjar (Settlers) to invite guests of all ages to put themselves in the shoes of settlers, take part in a treasure hunt in the form of orientation and encourage all kite owners to come to Viđey Island in an attempt to brake the Icelandic record in kite flying that was set on Viđey in 2010.
Together with our guests the scouts will raise a little Settlers village and teach participants how to start a fire and other necessary survival skills like roasting hot dogs and popping popcorn on an open fire.
14:30 Program opens
14:45 Treasure hunt started
16:00 Kite flying by Viđeyjarstofa
16:30 Program ends
In Viđeyjarstofa café you can enjoy a light meal and other refreshments; e.g. mussels, cured salmon, herring, sandwiches, waffles, pastries and more.
The Viđey ferry leaves Skarfabakki pier in Sundahöfn every 60 minutes from 11:15 to 17:15 and more often if needed. The ferry toll is ISK 1.000,- kr. for adults, ISK 500,- for children 7-15 years and free for the youngest. Tickets are sold on the day of departure.
For more information visit www.videy.com or give us a call on +354 533 5055.
Yesterday Elding was rewarded a new recognition by the Icelandic Tourist Board. This is the Endorsed travel service and Enviro Gold certification Vakinn.
Vakinn is a new quality- and environmental system that came into effect in 2012. It is a product of increased demand for a standardized quality system suitable for all branches of tourism in Iceland. The work behind it begun in 2008 when the Ministry of Industry, Energy and Tourism assigned the Icelandic Tourist Board and the Innovation Centre Iceland the project. It builds a lot on Qualmark, New Zealand tourism’s official mark of quality assurance, but has been adjusted and localized for Icelandic circumstances.
It is meant to increase safety and strengthen quality and professionalism in the field of tourism. We are truly proud to be the first to receive the Gold Certification and hope that it will encourage others to go the same way. We also want to congratulate our collaborators at IcelandExcursions, Bílaleiga Akureyrar - Höldur and Atlantik for their recognition.
Photo credit to the Icelandic Tourist Board
From the left Steingrímur Birgisson, Bílaleiga Akureyrar – Höldur; Ólafía Sveinsdóttir, Ferđaskrifstofan Atlantik; Rannveig Grétarsdóttir, Elding hvalaskođun; Rúnar Garđarsson, Iceland Excursions Allrahanda and Ólöf Ýrr Atladóttir, Iceland's Director General of Tourism.
This is the third year we offer these evening tours that are ideal as a relaxing end of a busy day or as a beginning of a fun night in town! The tours have been well received by our guest as it can be quite difficult to fit all activities in during a visit to Iceland and it is ideal to make use of our beautiful bright nights. The tours are scheduled every night at 20:30 from 15 June to 15 August. The tour takes from 3-3,5 hour so the boat should be back at the harbour around midnight.
For more information on the tour check:
The annual Viking Market in the Viking village in Hafnarfjörđur is starting today, 14 June 2012. Hafnarfjöđur has for long been a playground of Vikings demonstrating most aspects of Viking culture, ships, cuisine, handcraft, storytelling, archery, games, music and battles.
The program stands from 14 June to 17 June and there is truly something for everyone. In the Viking village you find a viking market, handcrafts, battles, ancient games, glima, archery, axe throwing, joggler, Viking school for children, wedding the Viking way, Viking music, whole grilled lamb, etc.
Check it out, you wont regret it!