The Board of Whale Watching in Iceland has called for Sverrir Daníel Halldórsson of the Marine Research Institute (MRI) to retract his statement that whale watching may be to blame for recent occurrences of beached whales. Sverrir made his comments on RÚV, suggesting that noise from the ships could cause the whales to become confused and move to shore. He said, “I heard of a group [of whales] in Faxaflói Bay, which was probably this group, and there were six whale watching boats around it. Therefore, I think it’s not unlikely that may have distracted them. That is, noise from the boats.”
However, the Board of Whale Watching has said that while their ships were watching the pelagic whales, they were nowhere near them, and that it is more likely that some private boats are to blame. The Board issued a statement, saying, “In recent years, whale watching companies, the University of Iceland, and foreign parties have been researching the possible effects of whale watching on animal behaviour, such as food production, and have shown that the effects are small or nonexistent in the long run.” The board has also said that it is irresponsible of MRI to make such a public statement witho ut scientific data or research to back it up.
MRI has agreed to meet with The Board of Whale Watching today at 13:00 to approach a solution. We expect a heated debate. Stay tuned.
Read more about a recent mass stranding in Snæfellsnes here, about locals on jet-skis herding imperilled whales away from shore here, and a successful whale rescue operation in Reykjanes last weekend here.
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