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It’s Time To Breach The Snake River Dams

The Snake River dams were controversial even before they were built.  While they were still...
Save the whale. Save the world.

Climate giants – how whales can help save the world

We know that whales, dolphins, and porpoises are amazing beings with complex social and family...
Nat Geo for Disney+ Luis Lamar

Five Facts About Orcas

Orcas, also known as killer whales, are one of the most recognizable and popular species...
Alexi Archer cropped

Meet the 2022 Interns: Alexi Archer

I am thrilled to welcome Alexi to WDC as the newest member of our Marine...
Saya

Meet the 2022 Interns: Saya Butani

I'm happy to welcome the newest member of the WDC team, Saya Butani, who is...
Block Island wind credit: Regina Asutis-Silvia

Offshore Wind: Don’t Blow It

Recently, new areas were added to the growing list of potential sites for offshore wind...
Sierra

Meet the 2022 Interns: Sierra Osborne

I'm delighted to introduce WDC's Conservation Education intern for Summer 2022, Sierra Osborne! Without hesitation,...
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...

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.