Many Icelanders have spent quite a bit of time on social media decrying the impending ecological collapse of the shark populations around Iceland. The demand for hákarl, a putrefied shark snack, has been driven to unsustainable levels due to tourists. Icelanders, by and large, do not really eat hákarl, but it is an item on almost every adventurous tourist’s “to-do” list.
However, scientists have recently seen an increase in the shark population, with a heavy cluster found around Reynisfjara. This is good news for shark fans and tourists alike.
“Perhaps the water has warmed up from global warming?,” said Loftur Benediktsson, Minister of Science and Sea. “But there isn’t strong enough evidence that global warming will affect Iceland. It’s most likely that the sharks have found a new food source.”
Whatever the case, the Icelandic Tourism Board is thrilled they can keep promoting the sale of hákarl and brennivín, with the number of tourists estimated to be over 11.5 million in 2041.
“If the tourists are happy, the sharks are happy,” said Icelandic Tourism Board shark specialist Björk Halldórsdóttir. “We need to keep a steady balance, a steady shark to tourist ratio. We don’t want people to lose interest in Iceland and make it a less popular destination. Right now, I think it’s pretty good. Where else in the world are shark populations on the rise?”
Whatever your opinion on tourists in Iceland. One thing we know for certain is that the sharks are happy.
Additional reporting by Bruce Resling, a former lobbyist for the Hákarl Union, JWS (local) 1975.