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We need whale poo 📷 WDC NA

Whales are our climate allies – meet the scientists busy proving it

At Whale and Dolphin Conservation, we're working hard to bring whales and the ocean into...
Minke whale © Ursula Tscherter - ORES

The whale trappers are back with their cruel experiment

Anyone walking past my window might have heard my groan of disbelief at the news...
Boto © Fernando Trujillo

Meet the legendary pink river dolphins

Botos don't look or live like other dolphins. Flamingo-pink all over with super-skinny snouts and...
Risso's dolphin entangled in fishing line and plastic bags - Andrew Sutton

The ocean is awash with plastic – can we ever clean it up?

You've seen pictures of plastic litter accumulating on beaches or marine wildlife swimming through floating...
Fin whale

Is this the beginning of the end for whaling off Iceland?

I'm feeling cautiously optimistic after Iceland's Fisheries Minister Svandís Svavarsdóttir wrote that there is little...
Mykines Lighthouse, Faroe Islands

Understanding whale and dolphin hunts in the Faroe Islands – why change is not easy

Most people in my home country of the Faroe Islands would like to see an...

Dolphin scientists look like you and me – citizen science in action

Our amazing volunteers have looked out for dolphins from the shores of Scotland more than...
Atlantic white-sided dolphins

The Faroes dolphin slaughter that sparked an outcry now brings hope

Since the slaughter of at least 1,423 Atlantic white-sided dolphins at Skálafjørður in my home...

Iceland 2013: Saga #2 – Grundarfjörður

My home from home for the next few weeks will be the small town of Grundarfjörður which lies on the north coast of the Snæfellsnes peninsula in the west of Iceland. The whole peninsula is often referred to as a miniature Iceland and it is a very popular tourist destination. The glacier-topped Snæfellsjökull volcano, standing at 1446m, is the highest mountain on the peninsula and dominates the landscape. The volcano was the setting for the classic Jules Verne’s novel, Journey to the Centre of the Earth.

Grundarfjörður has done well from the fishing industry over the years but in recent times the area has started to attract a whole new international crowd hoping to witness a new winter phenomenon. Since 2011, groups of orca (Orcinus orca) have regularly been spotted out in the bay during the winter months causing much excitement amongst locals, tourists and researchers.

As with all wild whales and dolphins, prey availability dictates their movements and the reason the orcas have shown up in Grundarfjörður recently is a direct response to a shift in the wintering habits of their prey – the Atlantic herring (Clupea harengus) – one of the most abundant fish species on earth. If you want to find out more about orca then you really need to understand the natural history of the herring! The Icelandic herring stock, or Sild, as it is known locally, used to spend the winters in the fjords in the east of Iceland but in 2006 some of the older stock shifted their distribution to the Grundarfjörður area. However, it took a few more years before the orcas figured this out and now, from December to March each winter, the orcas appear to be a regular feature giving people a golden opportunity to see these iconic and charismatic mammals. Please follow the blogs over the coming weeks as we attempt to give you an insight in to the lives of the whales, the people and landscapes of this stunning island.