Happy New Year 2020

Thu, 01/02/2020 - 12:58

What a year it’s been.. As 2020 is already upon us, we decided to go ahead and look over our highlights and golden moments from 2019!

We started the year with a friendly humpback whale feeding close to the shore almost daily here in Reykjavík. It was truly amazing to see the amazing creature on a daily basis and so close to land; in a true feeding frenzy. 

We implemented a new concept for our Northern Lights Cruise that we call “we will always try”, meaning that we will present the forecast to our guests and give them a chance of seeing the lights by joining us on the cruise while other Northern Lights tours may be cancelled. Our guests have the opportunity to come as many times as it takes on the cruise to see the lights. This new concept has allowed us to minimise cancellations of our tours and our guests are thrilled of being offered the chance of going out. When our guests are happy, we are happy!

In May we took part in the project “Cleanup Iceland” where we invite employees, partners, friends and nature lovers to come and join us in a beach cleanup in Viðey. This year we had about 60 people joining us to clean up trash that strong winter storms brought over to the island. We love giving back to mother nature and doing it in friendly company and beautiful nature sure helps! We ended the afternoon with a big BBQ feast and well deserved refreshing drinks.

The Old Harbour in Reykjavík can be the centre of exciting happenings and events, with café’s, restaurants, galleries and bars all around us. This was surely interesting to a friendly humpback whale that was spotted within the harbour walls of Reykjavík this spring! It didn’t seem to be hurt or in distress, just feeding among the marooned boats and ships until it had enough and ventured out of the harbour again. This is not the first whale we encounter within the harbour walls and perhaps, not the last one either, but a surprise nonetheless and an interesting sight for both locals and travellers.

We had a unique sighting in Faxaflói on our independence day, June 17th as not only one, but two blue whales decided to pay us a visit. For the first time in Elding’s 19 year history in the area and for the first time in over 20 years, these amazing animals are spotted in the bay. It looked like a mother and her calf, where the calf was interacting and playing around the boat so the whole experience was truly unique. 

Long finned pilot whales have been making their way into the bay almost annually in the last few years. Unfortunately they have also been stranding at our shores. As much as we love seeing the pilot whales we would much rather like to see them in deeper waters where they usually stay. Thankfully, both Elding and the civil rescue teams in Iceland have managed to save few pods of pilot whales when they came too close to shore.

Since 2007 we have collected data on the cetaceans we encounter on our tours. Our research has grown steadily and we believe that our photo-id data is vital for understanding the whales in the area. This year we are collaborating with our friend, Jacob Levenson who is a marine biologist. He uses satellite tagging for movement analysis where the tags basically work as little fitbits for whales. Because of this method, we have been able to follow whales’ movement and see where they hang around and travel. Learn more about our tagging efforts.

We then had a very special encounter in August with a basking shark! They are not too common on our tours so it is always a memorable experience for both crew and passengers when we spot them. Basking sharks are the second largest fish in the world after the whale shark. They are slow moving, feeding on plankton near the water surface. These gentle giants have huge mouth and it can be very impressive to see them slowly swim near the surface with their mouth open, feeding on plankton and krill.

Orcas have always been very popular among our guests and crew. Unfortunately they are not that common in Faxaflói as they tend to stay on the other sides of the bay, both near Grindavík and near Snæfellsnes. However, we were lucky enough to encounter a small pod this November. The interesting part is without a doubt the fact that we were able to identify the male orca as the same individual we encountered back in February! Then he was travelling with another male, but this time with a female, juvenile and a calf. Using the photo identification, we are able to further understand a whale’s social behaviour, feeding habits, migration and to estimate age and population.

Environmental work is a big part of our daily operation. We use three different environmental certification programs that all balance each other out and give us an excellent and wholesome management tools to use. Elding is a platinum Earth Check certificate holder, a Gold Environmental member in the Icelandic quality and environmental label Vakinn and proudly hoists the Blue Flag on our boats. Elding passed audits from all three labels this year, meaning that all certifications were renewed. These tools are very important to everyone at Elding as it helps us on the correct path and encourages us to do better!

Finally, Elding is nothing without it’s great team and fantastic passengers, and we love the fact that our guests like what we do and are not afraid to express their thoughts on TripAdvisor. This year, we reached the TripAdvisor Hall of Fame status (given to businesses that hold the certificate of excellence for 5 or more consecutive years) and we couldn’t be more thrilled about it!

Thank you for being a part of yet another amazing year at Elding and we hope to see you again in the near future!