Beached Whale(?) Washes Up In Snæfellsnes - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Beached Whale(?) Washes Up In Snæfellsnes

Published February 20, 2017

Photos by
Rúna Björg Magnúsdóttir

A creature that appears to be a whale was spotted on the southern coast of Snæfellsnes last Saturday.

Rúna Björg Magnúsdóttir of the Langaholt in Snæfellsnes, posted the following publicly to her Facebook:

Rúna told RÚV that a whale has not beached at the location in the seven years that she has lived there. It is unknown what sort of whale it is, and one commenter on the Facebook post speculated that it may in fact be a Greenland shark.

Whales beached in Iceland is not an uncommon sight. In fact, the Icelandic word for a beached whale, hvalreki, is used in common parlance the same way the English use “windfall”. This becomes more evident in the various ways beached whales have been used in the recent past in Iceland.

For example, in 2014, the Penis Museum put in a request for the penis of a beached sperm whale which has washed up in the Westfjords.

In 2013, a group of pilot whales beached themselves in Snæfellsnes, prompting many locals to descend upon them and butcher them for their meat. The act was not only dangerous, on account of the high levels of mercury in pilot whale meat, but it was suspected that some of the whales might have even been butchered alive.

In 2012, the jawbone of a beached sperm whale was poached for its ivory, which can fetch a hefty price on the black market. The perpetrators were never apprehended.

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