Saturday, 22 February 2014

New year, new field season

We are back in Grundarfjordur but this year things are very different indeed! So far we have only seen a few whales at a time, usually one or two groups and they tend to go to the inner part of Kolgrafafjordur, a place where we never saw them last year. There are whitebeaked dolphins, grey seals and lots of seabirds around so the wildlife spectacle is impressive. Not to mention the dramatic scenery that is typical of Iceland and, particularly, the Snaefelsnes peninsula. We have seen some familiar fins, but definitely not the same numbers of whales that we were spoiled with last season. There is a lot less herring around and that might be the reason why we are getting fewer visitors. Or it could be that the whales found a better place to spend their winter, we just don't know. This is the beauty of studying wild animals, nature is in charge and all we can do is try to understand what lies behind the changes we observe.

The Icelandic weather however is still playing its tricks on us. For most of last week we were land-bound due to very strong winds. The sea was rough, even in the sheltered inner fjord where the whales now tend to come. It just so happened to be the week of Whale Fest, organised by Discover the World, so we were happy to have time so see a lot of interesting lectures featured in the programme. We also got to share our latest results with the public and meet some of the people that travelled all the way to this beautiful part of Iceland.

Today we got a chance to go back out again and we resighted some individuals we hadn't seen in more than a week - maybe this means some whales are coming back? We hope so and that the whales stay around for a little while longer.