From Iceland — The Serene Act of Watching Whales

The Serene Act of Watching Whales

Published August 18, 2008

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Ahoy there! Grapevine clambered on board the Ísafold for an afternoon of whale watching and deep sea fishing. It was a mild Friday afternoon, and after a stressful couple of days the excursion came as a welcome escape. Not knowing what to expect, let alone which boat of three to board, I dashed and just made it onto Ísafold which doubles up as a tour boat and angling vessel.
    Eric, my charismatically salty tour guide, wore sailor whites and a brown flat cap. He´s from a port in Pennsylvania and his lovable New England accent made me feel welcome as I stepped on-board. Eric was a mix of sage and street-smart and has done more than just sail the high seas. Highly informative, he pointed out that there are four types of whale that swim around these parts – killer whale, dolphin, humpback and minke whales – the most common type and the one we followed on this trip.
    Minke whales are calm creatures, and unlike their brethren – the humpback and the dolphin – do not leap out of the ocean like circus performers. This had a rather serene effect on the excursion. Eric kept the loudspeaker information to a minimum, leaving us to absorb the nature and feeling a little less like tourists. Recently, a group of whale watchers in Húsavík witnessed an attack by several killer whales on a small minke who never stood a chance and was subsequently eaten. While it must have been a sight to behold, it would have been out of context on today’s outing. What we witnessed was far more peaceful.
    The tour also included a 20-minute angling session. After dipping the line for the first time, I caught a Whiting fish (similar to cod) instantly. It was like something from the Old Testament, a miracle for my first time sea fishing. Trying to repeat this, however, was a different matter. After being asked repeatedly for the rod back, I salvaged one more fish that was tossed back into the ocean instead of onto my dinner plate.

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