Although we have generally been quite happy with the weather in the past few months we are kind of looking forward to the summer now. There have surely been some positive signs lately with the sunny days, good sightings and the beautiful late sunsets in the evenings. Last but not least, just as the Golden Plover's arrival is considered by many to be the definitive mark of winter's end, we celebrated our first Minke Whale sighting of the season last Monday.
This is such a lovely time when the migrating whales are arriving and blending in with the resident whales. We just can't wait to catch up with our boon companions Peanut, Donut, The Resight Guy and all the other identified by Faxa Cetacean Research on our tours.
The year 2012 has been an interesting year for us. Early on our contract with the city regarding the Višey Ferry was renewed for the next five years. We were also really proud when our General Manager and the owner of Elding, Rannveig Grétarsdóttir, received the 2012 FKA Acknowledgement Awards in January. In June we added a new boat to our fleet called Skrśšur. We use it mainly for Višey Island but also on private tours for medium sized groups. We also got new housing in the harbour, Hafnarbśšir on Geirsgata 9. To begin with we opened a café/ bistro, as we didnt have much time during our high season to make any changes. This autumn we renovated the place completely and opened the new and trendy restaurant MAR in December.
This summer we renewed the overalls on board our boats. We got 200 new and really warm buoyant suits which have kept our guests warm and safe. The overalls are now available in most sizes, from childrens up to large and roomy adult sizes. These overalls are absolutely essential on the cold winter days but many of our guests prefer to wear them in summer too as they are not used to the chilly Icelandic sea breeze.
The sightings pleasantly surprised us early on in the year and we were almost guaranteed to find the whales really close to land. To begin with these were mainly humpback whales and orcas but later on white-beaked dolphins, harbour porpoises and minke whales joined the area as well. The closer it got to summer the more minke whales we got to see as was to be expected given their density in the area in summer time. We have though also seen more species this yeat, for example fin whales a few times, sei and blue whale once and few times hundreds of pilot whales that even needed our rescue. Early this autumn the winds turned on us and we had to cancel way too many whale watching tours because of rough weathers. To add to that the sightings could also have been better and the last few weeks have been particularly hard on us. It was therefore very good for us to look back and take together the overall sightings for the year 2012; which we share with you here in comparison to the years before.
|Summer EL-01 / EL-02||2012||2011||2010||2009|
|Orca / Killer whales||3,00%||0,61%||0,58%||0,50%|
|Over all sighting success||89,15%||93,61%||95,75%||95,04%|
|Orca / Killer whales||10,43%||5,19%||2,90%||7,14%|
|Over all sighting success||80,56%||76,53%||75,82%||83,33%|
We have also some good news from our other adventures at sea. The sea angling tours were for example a big success and we think that it was mainly the culinary experience that did the trick. In addition to offering our guest a taste of their freshly grilled catch on board they could also take their catch to the chefs in Hafnarbśšir who then prepared a delicious meal for a small price. The catches were generally good, most often cod but also mackerel, haddock, pollack and catfish. Since January 2012 all catches of halibut were banned so the dream of catching a giant halibut have to be put on hold until the halibut population recovers.
Luckily the puffin populations in Faxaflói seem to be slowly recovering after few difficult years. Ornithologist found for example around 33% more eggs on the islands this summer than the summer before. Realizing how fragile their status is we have been really careful in order not to disrupt their delicate biosphere at difficult times.-
Its also been lively on Višey Island this year. The diverse program of events has attracted tourists as well as locals and the new horse rental on the island was a big success. Fascinated by the islands history, art and nature or simply there to enjoy the quiet and beautiful ambiance, guests always find something suitable. During the winter the light of the IMAGINE PEACE TOWER attracts a whole new group of visitors. There has never been as many guests present during the re-lighting of the tower on 9 October as this year. We ferried 1632 guests to Višey Island in addition to those on private boats and those who watched it live online or from the city.
Looking back over the year it is always fun and interesting. We are really proud of our achievements and determined to do even better where we can. Our schedule is not changing much as it has become quite tight, especially in the summer time. We are now focusing more on increasing and improving our service on board, e.g. the selection of refreshments sold, developing our guidance and so on.
December is truly the time when we all get into our holiday spirit. It is magical walking around admiring the appearance of the city as we light up our surroundings. As always the Christmas Harbour is an interesting place to visit during the holidays with all it's quirky little shops, selection of restaurants and activities to choose from.
Holiday whale watching has become a tradition for us and we offer our tours daily at 13:00, with the exception of 25 December and 1 January when we will close to celebrate the holidays with our friends and families. In the holiday spirit the Elding team welcoms our guests with holiday punch and homemade biscuits in the Whale Watching Centre before our tours.
We also run the Višey ferry according to schedule during the holidays and on the island there are lots of interesting events that get us in the holiday spirit. We also offer a few extra departures for the Imagine Peace Tour, in connection to it's lighting on winter solstice and New Years Eve.
We surely look forward to a an interesting and busy holiday season, and hope to see you.
The WhaleFest was held in Brighton last weekend and attracted over 6000 visitors. Having been there last year we were sure that this was an event we didn't want to miss. It is inspiring to see all the great whale watching sites around the world, the great work NGO's are doing in protecting the wildlife and the work artists around the world have put on inspired by theses majestic creatures. Dylan and Ian and their team from Planet Whale put up a fantastic display area and gathered experts in the field to hold lectures, workshops and other events to make the WhaleFest an unforgettable event.
In the run up to the WhaleFest we also attended a two day conference with whale watching operators from around the world. The conference was highly interesting and we learned a great deal from it. The focus was on helping whale watch businesses to be more sustainable, and more profitable, than ever before. From participating we have not only learned a great deal but also made great friends and allies. Together we put together the first industry to industry report on whale watching, which will be published any day soon. Our input was a case study on the controversial issue of running whale watching tours in a whaling area. We felt great support and understanding from our friends and allies, and we are now more certain than ever before that we can put an end to whaling in Faxaflói Bay.
Here are few photos we took during the WhaleFest
The IMAGINE PEACE TOWER will be relit during a peaceful ceremony next Tuesday on 9 October which is John Lennons day of birth.
Like previous years Yoko Ono invites us to attending the ceremony with a free sailing to Višey Island on that occasion. The program starts at 19:00 by Višeyjarnaust and the evening will be made memorable for all those who attend with a serene and beautiful atmosphere. Musicians Ragnheišur Gröndal and Gušmundur Pétursson will play ambient music and the choir Hljómeyki will sing for guests by the IMAGINE PEACE TOWER. Yoko Onos Wish Tree will be placed in Višeyjarnaust and Višeyjarstofa where guests of all ages can leave a wish. Light refreshments and warm drinks are available both in Višeyjarstofa and Višeyjarnaust.
The free ferry boat will be running from 18:00 to 19:30.In addition the city of Reykjavķk offers free public transport from Hlemmur bus station to/from Skarfabakki where the ferry departs. The first bus goes at 18:40 from Hlemmur and after that every 20 minute until 19:40. After the ceremony the first ferry departs from Višey at 21:00 and the buses will by running every 20 minutes in connection to the sailings.
The day after, 10 October, our guided tours to the IMAGINE PEACE TOWER start running. The Imagine Peace Tours are evening tours that last about 1,5-2 hours. The unite history, art and nature in an interesting manner and give a deep insight into this magnificent work of art. The price for the Imagine Peace Tour is 5.000 ISK per person and pick up from hotels and guesthouses in Reykjavķk area is complimentary.
Reykjavķk Film Festival (RIFF) is in full swing and movie lovers should find plenty to chose from in the cinemas. Like previous years we take part in RIFF around the corner. This year we will run the Icelandic documentary Kvikur sjór directed by Žorsteinn Jónsson in the Whale Watching Centre on Saturday at 12:00.
The documentary is about fishermen in Iceland; how their job has developed over the years and how they see it in the future. It gives a great insight in to this interesting work field and the life of Icelanders. Unfortunately it is all in Icelandic but foreign guests should not worry as the footage is truly something for the eye. Here is a preview of Kvikur sjór.
We hope to see you on Saturday!
A new global community for saving the whales is on the rise. This is the Save the Whales: Reloaded campaign that will be launched at this October's World Whale Conference in Brighton, England.
This campaign is built on the groundwork that began 30 years ago when the original Save the Whales campaign resulted in arguable the biggest conservation victory in history. This was of course the 1982 agreement by 39 governments, including the Icelandic, on a ban on commercial whaling.
Since then new threats, and unfortunately some of the old once, have come to our attention and we feel that is important to step up the game. That is why we support this cause and have pledged that:
Together we can achieve so much more than we could alone
Everybody deserves a say in how we manage our oceans, including important decisions that affect whales and dolphins
Whales and dolphins desperately need us to speak with one voice if we are to protect them and their ocean habitats before it is too late
We hope to see you at the Whale Fest in Brighton following the Whale Conference.
Recently a new CD came out containing songs and sounds of the Icelandic Humpback Whales. It is based on recordings gathered for research purposes by researchers a the University of Iceland. They've spent years on gathering data using deployed underwater acoustic recorders.
We have to say that the result is really interesting. This CD is not only a treat for the ear but also an entertaining educational package on whale sounds. After seeing these magnificent creatures in the wild, or dreaming about them, it is really interesting being able to hear their sounds, characteristics and meaning. If you want to learn more about the project you can visit their site on Facebook or listen to a sneak peek form the CD. The CD is also for sale on board our boats for those who want to take back unique memories from Icleand.
Today is the official end of our puffin season this year. As there are still few puffins around we will though continue to stop by one of the islands on our whale watching tours. We know that any day soon they might take of to their winter whereabouts so it is important to make good use of the days we still have with these charismatic birds.
Of the islands closest to Reykjavķk the puffins have, until now, only been known to breed on Akurey and Lundey. To our pleasant surprise it appears that they have started their breeding in Engey as well. For the last few days we have therefore headed there to see the puffins as there were quite few puffins left on Akurey and Lundey. It will surely be interesting to see how the breedings on Engey will develop and we will surely keep a close eye on that.
Photos taken on our Puffin Watching tours this summer by Megan Whittaker and Įgśst Bjarmi
Reykjavķk Gay Pride 2012 is just around the corner. Like previous years we participates in the Queer Cruise on Friday and the Rainbow family festival on Višey Island on Sunday.
This is the forth time that Elding offers this special Queer Cruise. We sail around the small islands off the coast of Reykjavķk, play fantastic music and have special offers at the bar. The cruise is a unique opportunity to view the city from a different perspective and have a good time. The tickets are sold at the Pride service centre in Iša. Departure Friday 5 August, at 10 pm from Reykjavķk's old harbour.
The Association of Queer Parents hosts the family festival on Višey Island in cooperation with Reykjavķk Gay Pride. The program starts at 2:30 pm and delicious rainbow refreshments will be served in Višeyjarstofa café throughout the day. Tickets are sold by the ferry on the day. The Višey ferry leaves Skarfabakki pier in Sundahöfn every 60 minutes throughout the day, starting at 11:15 am.
More information about the program at Reykjavķk Gay Pride website.