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A dolphin called Arnie with a shell

Dolphins catch fish using giant shell tools

In Shark Bay, Australia, two groups of dolphins have figured out how to use tools...
Common dolphins at surface

Did you know that dolphins have unique personalities?

We all have personalities, and between the work Christmas party and your family get-together, perhaps...
Leaping harbour porpoise

The power of harbour porpoise poo

We know we need to save the whale to save the world. Now we are...
Holly. Image: Miray Campbell

Meet Holly, she’s an incredible orca leader

Let me tell you the story of an awe-inspiring orca with a fascinating family story...
Humpback whale. Image: Christopher Swann

A story about whales and humans

As well as working for WDC, I write books for young people. Stories; about the...
Risso's dolphin at surface

My lucky number – 13 years studying amazing Risso’s dolphins

Everything we learn about the Risso's dolphins off the coast of Scotland amazes us and...
Dead sperm whale in The Wash, East Anglia, England. © CSIP-ZSL.

What have dead whales ever done for us?

When dead whales wash up on dry land they provide a vital food source for...
Risso's dolphin © Andy Knight

We’re getting to know Risso’s dolphins in Scotland so we can protect them

Citizen scientists in Scotland are helping us better understand Risso's dolphins by sending us their...
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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...

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...

Did Icelandic whalers really kill a blue whale?

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

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