Iceland Mag

5 Reykjavik

Iceland Mag


Worst whale hunting season in more than a decade: Only 17 whales killed this year

By Staff

  • Posing by the harpoon Gunnar Bergmann Jónsson, the manager of IP-Úgerð hf, one of the two companies engaged in the whale hunt this year. Photo/Vilhelm.

Thanks to poor weather conditions this summer the whales of Faxaflói bay were spared the full force of the Icelandic whaling fleet. Minke whale hunters were able to catch only 17 animals this summer, compared to 46 animals last year. The whaling industry has not seen a worse year since whaling started again in 2006.

Read more: Whaling is not an Icelandic tradition

Only two whaling vessels participated in the hunt this year, Hrafnreyður KÓ and Rokkarinn KE. The two vessels hunted minke whales in Faxaflói bay in West Iceland, as well as Skagafjörður fjord in the north. The season started poorly, with the first animal caught in mid-June. Scientists had determined that 220 animals could be caught without the hunt becoming unsustainable. The population of minke whales in Icelandic waters is believed to be upward of 40,000 individuals.

Whales appear to be changing their behavior
The problems faced by the whalers have included bad weather which has kept the boats away from the hunt, as well as unusually few minke whales in their traditional habitat. Captains of whaling vessels, as well as whale watching vessels, who spoke to the local news site Vísir said that far fewer whales had been seen this summer than in previous years. 

The manager of one of the two whaling companies told Vísir that the whales were hiding somewhere:

"There are clearly fewer minke whales in these waters, for whatever reason. These 40,000 animals are here somewhere, they didn't all just disappear or die at once, but they might be spending their time somewhere further north, or along the eastern coast of Greenland."

Related content

Editor's Picks