Skip to content
All articles
  • All articles
  • About whales & dolphins
  • Create healthy seas
  • End captivity
  • Fundraising
  • Green Whale
  • Prevent bycatch
  • Prevent deaths in nets
  • Stop whaling
Clear the list graphic

Clear WDC’s Amazon Wishlist for Giving Tuesday

UPDATE: We are thrilled to report that everything was donated off of our Amazon Wishlist...
Fin whales are targeted by Icelandic whalers

Speaking truth to power – my week giving whales a voice

The International Whaling Commission (IWC) meeting is where governments come together to make decisions about whaling...
The Codfather being good with Anvil kick feeding right next to them_0761 branded

Spout Spotters: Boater Safety Around Whales Online Course Launches

After countless hours behind the computer, bountiful snacks, and a few stress relieving walks with...
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...
65556ab2635fdab7b4e12265b9623d64

Stream to Sea: Orca Action Month 2022

This June was an exceptionally busy and exciting Orca Month, starting with a somewhat surprising...
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...

It’s Time To Breach The Snake River Dams

The Snake River dams were controversial even before they were built.  While they were still...
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...

No brainer in Faxafloi Bay – whale watching trumps whaling every time

I have pleasure in introducing a guest blog by Icelander Kris Hjalmarsson, who comments on the increasing conflict of interest between the whale watch community and the whalers. These industries are polar opposites yet each operates in Faxafloi Bay, outside Reykjavik, home to a species targeted by both factions: the minke whale. Below, Kris explains how whaling is threatening to ruin whale watching – an industry that is helping to rebuild Iceland’s economy and which offers an ‘ icing on the cake’ experience to thousands of tourists each year.

The Icelandic whale watching industry has an adversarial relationship with those who set out to hunt and kill a slow, friendly and curious swimmer that just so happens to love being in the company of humans. Thanks to its naturally friendly and curious tendencies, the minke whale has helped spawn an industry embraced by tourists from around the world. With its astounding scenery and pure, clean ocean, the Icelandic whale watching industry has seen tremendous growth and much gratitude is owed to this amazing creature that loves to come right up to your boat and give watchers the experience of a lifetime.

On the opposite side are those who prefer to harpoon this slow and friendly creature and drag it to shore to be flensed and then placed into freezer storage – with no significant market to justify the killing.

The relative economic values of these industries, currently on a head-on collision course, are obvious when the two are compared side by side. Compared to whaling, the whale watch industry has gone from literally nothing to becoming a major revenue stream for the Icelandic economy in just two decades. Tourists that are far from cash-strapped pour money into the local economy – currently generating four billion Icelandic króna in foreign exchange – and that money recycles itself over and over. It’s an enormous economic boon.

However, whale watch tour operators are seeing changes in the behaviour of the minke whales which are starting to impact their business. The minke whales are at the very heart of the local whale watching industry, yet they are showing behavioural changes that stem not from the whale watching, but from the brutal kill tactics of the hunters. The minkes are starting to show a loss of trust and rightfully so. They are intelligent creatures and they know they are being picked off, one by one . Murdered in close proximity to one another with vicious harpoons, tipped with explosives. It becomes easy to see why they are starting to shy away from humans. Their trust is being betrayed. 

The economic forces in play will likely be the ultimate decider as to whether the whaling continues. As far as I can see, it‘s not that difficult to reach a decision based upon logic. Let the money speak for itself, as it seems to be a very strong motivator. If this four billion króna revenue stream – from wealthy tourists that love whale watching – dries up, the local Reykjavik economy will soon start circling the drain.