WDC volunteer, John Faulkes, recently visited Iceland. Below, he recounts his experiences and observations of a nation unable to decide where it stands on whales.
Day 1: I woke up to an amazing sight: everything was so white and wonderful, it had been snowing!
In the afternoon, I went whale watching with Elding. Once out at sea, it started snowing – I was very excited to be whale watching in the snow. It was a great experience but further out to sea, the snow stopped and we saw white-beaked dolphins, common dolphins and 2 humpback whales.
There were over 100 people on the boat which made it difficult to get any photos, however I did get to chat to lots of people. I had my WDC jacket on and was talking to people about WDC and whales and dolphins and the whaling issue in Iceland. I was quite surprised when a crew member called me over and said the Captain had seen my WDC jacket and wanted to meet me. He was very nice and we had a great chat on way back. In the evening, we went to see the northern lights, the most amazing sight. I have never seen so many bright green colours!
Day 2: I went to the town centre. The first shop I went into was like an off licence and I was shocked when I saw what they were selling: whale jerky. I couldn’t believe my eyes and then just behind me, there was packaged smoked whale meat. I also looked at restaurant menus and found quite a few that were selling whale meat.
Day 3. I found more restaurants with whales on the menu; however I saw a tourist shop selling a T-shirt with a picture of a whale tail saying ‘kill em all’ it was even more shocking than finding whale meat and it wasn’t just the one shop, it was also in others.
However I did see many restaurants with ‘whale friendly’ stickers on the windows and even more not selling whale meat, which was great to see. I would highly recommend a visit to Iceland – I had an amazing time and really enjoyed myself.