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WDC team at UN Ocean conference

Give the ocean a chance – our message from the UN Ocean Conference

I'm looking out over the River Tejo in Lisbon, Portugal, reflecting on the astounding resilience...
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...
Humpback whale underwater

Climate giants – how whales can help save the world

We know that whales, dolphins and porpoises are amazing beings with complex social and family...
Black Sea common dolphins © Elena Gladilina

The dolphin and porpoise casualties of the war in Ukraine

Rare, threatened subspecies of dolphins and porpoises live in the Black Sea along Ukraine's coast....
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...
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Port River dolphins

New report reveals 100,000 dolphins and small whales hunted every year

When you hear the words ‘dolphin hunts’ it’s likely that you think of Japan or...

Minke whale hunts stop in Iceland

Iceland’s commercial hunt of minke whales has ended for this year. The common minke whale is the...

Did Icelandic whalers really kill a blue whale?

*Warning - this blog contains an image that you may find upsetting* They say a...

Icelandic whalers breach international law and kill iconic, protected whale by mistake

Icelandic whalers out hunting fin whales for the first time in three years appear to...

Doubts remain after Icelandic Marine Institute claims slaughtered whale was a hybrid not a blue

Experts remain sceptical of initial test results issued by the Icelandic Marine Institute, which indicate...

Japan set to resume commercial whaling

Reports from Japan suggest that the government they will formally propose plans to resume commercial...

End the whale hunts! Icelandic fin whaler isolated as public mood shifts

Here’s a sight I hoped never again to witness. A boat being scrubbed and repainted...

Australian Government to block Japanese whaling proposal

Japanese Government officials have reportedly confirmed that they will propose the resumption of commercial whaling...

Pregnant whales once again a target for Japanese whalers

Figures from Japan's whaling expedition to Antarctica during the 2017/18 austral summer have revealed that...

SOS alert for whales off Norway!

I have to admit to bitter disappointment when I arrived in Tromsø, northern Norway, a...

Norway's whaling season begins

April 1st saw the start of the whaling season in Norway. Despite a widely-accepted international moratorium...

Norway increases whaling quota despite declining demand

Norway's government has announced an increase in the number of minke whales that can be...

Whale beer: really scraping the bottom of the barrel


In what is starting to feel like an alcoholic version of Groundhog day, it is time for the annual farce that is the – mercifully short – ‘whale beer’ season in Iceland.  The beer is brewed to sell during Þorri  (Thorri), the Icelandic midwinter festival which runs from mid-January to mid-February. Whilst there’s undoubtedly some traditional foods associated with Thorri (including such dubious delicacies as rotten shark, soured whale blubber and ram´s testicles), whale beer is decidedly not traditional, existing only since 2015.

Despite the fact that most drinkers gave previous whale beers a definite ‘thumbs down’ on taste grounds, the Steðja (Stedji) brewery doggedly persists in its efforts to convince tourists that they really DO want to drink a beer brewed with sheep dung-smoked fin whale testicles.

Bad taste on more than one level it would seem. And as I commented last year, whilst Iceland’s sole fin whaler, Kristjan Loftsson, will doubtless be congratulating himself on finding yet another gimmick to offload his surplus whale products, there is more to this than mere sensationalism. This is a calculated move, not only to dishonour a beautiful and endangered creature by using its most intimate of body parts as a marketing tool, but also a rather sordid opportunity for Loftsson to send a clear ‘two fingers’ to the conservation community and to those who love and respect whales.

To my mind, this obscene use of the body parts of an endangered species is on a par with ashtrays made of gorilla hands, stools made from elephant feet, or dried tiger penis as an aphrodisiac. My hope is that visitors to Iceland – along with the many Icelanders who see beyond the hype – will treat this product with the disdain that it deserves.

Iceland is right up there amongst my favourite places to visit but please, if you take a trip this year, don’t be tempted to sample whale products in any form. Find out more in our new flyer!

Care for a better bitter? Why not try a Bottlenose Bitter brewed by WDC partner Speyside Craft Brewery in Scotland. For every litre sold, WDC receives a 5p donation. Find out more