Whales are mentioned in the
oldest documented sources and beached whales have always been
considered a great perquisite, especially when times were hard.
At the time of settlement, there were probably more whale species
in the ocean around the country than nowadays.
Two are known to have been hunted almost to extinction in the
North Atlantic, the Greenland right whale, and the North Atlantic right
whale. Even the earth’s largest mammal, the blue whale, was
endangered. The Basks are
said to be the first Europeans to hunt whales.
The Norwegians planted their whaling stations in the Northwest
and East of Iceland in the 19th century and continued their
whaling activities into the 20th, until they were not
profitable any more. The
whales remained protected by law until the Icelanders commenced the
whaling in 1948. External
threats and pressure from whale preservationist organizations brought
them to an end in 1987. The
Icelanders withdrew from the International Whaling Commission in 1992
(re-entered in 2002),
and pressure has been put on the Icelandic governments to permit the
recommencing of whaling around the country ever since.
In August 2003 the Minister of Fisheries permitted the hunting of 38
minke whales around the country on scientific grounds.
cool, clear North Atlantic
and Arctic Oceans encircling
Iceland are teeming with whales of
various sizes and species. Already thousands of tourists have enjoyed
whale watching from various sites around the country. The whale
watching port in the north is
Akureyri and Husavik. Whale watching is also
available from the Reykjavik harbour.
locations confirm, that whales are all around the coastline. And
although whale watching in Iceland is growing, it is still far
from being commercial. As a pastime it is still exclusive
and mostly done on small crafts. The locations are not swarming
with other crafts full of tourists. Small groups are taken out. There
are no other boats except those of the local fishermen and apart from
sighting the majestic whales guest are treated to a variety of sea
birds, seals, plus a glimpse of the midnight sun weather permitting.
On October 18th 2006, the government of
Iceland decided to allow commercial whaling again, and the first whale
boat steamed 100 nautical miles out, almost to the fishing limits
between Iceland and Greenland, looking for fin whales. The quota
of this species is 9 whales this year. At the same time an
additional quota for 30 minke whales was issued. The Ocean Biology
Institute recommended a quota for 400 minke whales in 2007.
oxygen was first produced as a waste product by certain plant cells some
three billion years ago, it created a crisis for all other life on earth.
Those plants were polluting the environment, exhaling a lethal gas. Earth
eventually had an atmosphere incompatible with life. Nevertheless, life on
earth took care of itself. In the thinking of the human being a hundred
years is a long time. Hundred years ago we didn't have cars, airplanes,
computers or vaccines. It was a whole different world, but to the earth, a
hundred years is nothing. A million years is nothing. This planet lives and
breathes on a much vaster scale. We can't imagine its slow and powerful
rhythms, and we haven't got the humility to try. We've been residents here
for the blink of an eye. If we're gone tomorrow, the earth will not miss us.
Michael Crichton, "Jurassic Park"