Thursday, 28 January 2016

My Icelandic orcas' experience

Commentary by Julie Beesau

Julie Beesau spent 2 fieldseasons volunteering with us at the Icelandic Orca project in 2013 and 2014. This blog post is about her own experience working with Icelandic orcas.

I have spent two months in Iceland, in Grundarfjörður, during winter fieldwork twice (in 2013 and 2014) with all the Icelandic Orcas' team. It was such a great experience for me. I've always wanted to see orcas in the wild and study them. I learned many things on their social and feeding behavior, and I could also enjoy the magic of their acoustic communication.
I was in charge of taking pictures and acoustic recordings on the whale watching boat. It was also nice to discuss and explain to tourists what kind of studies we can do on orcas.
I remember one day we encountered more than 100 orcas in the fjord, it was just unbelievable. I think this day was my favorite and will be engraved in my memory forever.

Male orca. Photo by Julie Beesau.

Every day after the trip on the whale watching boat I would meet the rest of the team in our house where we shared our sightings and experiences on the boat and also a great meal.

Landscape of  Grundarfjörður. Photo by Julie Beesau.
I could also appreciate the magical landscapes of Iceland and sometimes the capricious weather.
It was a unique experience, rich in animal sightings but also rich in human contact. I met some absolutely lovely and very helpful people there (Icelandic, Portuguese, Russian, Italian, Scottish, Dutch, German people).

Thank you to all the Icelandic Orcas’ team and also to Láki Tours, especially captain Gísli.

1 comment:

  1. I am not any expert on Orcas. I have only been fascinated by orcas since a child. I would love nothing more than to see the captive whales one day free. Last night, whilst doing some research, I saw that Katina and Kasatka, 2 captive orcas owned by Seaworld, were actually capture mates. When most talk of release, they talk of release of a single orca. But seeing are Katina and Kasatka are both Icelandic, most of their offspring are also fully Icelandic and some of them do interact with each other, maybe, just maybe, these whales, together with their offspring, can be rehabilitated and reintroduced into Icelandic waters, as a pod. I do not know if there is any information on the pods in Iceland in terms of vocalizations that can be used to see which of these captive whales belong to which pod, but maybe that information can also be utilized. But if they do not reconnect with their pod, than at least they will exist together as a pod. Who knows, maybe Kiska, Tilikum and Ulises, can also be rehabilitated, along with with Katina and Kasatka and their offspring and also released together with them as a pod....Just a crazy thought.