From Iceland — North: Whales Found Love In A Hopeless Place

North: Whales Found Love In A Hopeless Place

Published January 22, 2020

Inês Pereira
Photo by
Art Bicnick

Humpback whales have been settling in Eyjafjörður, in the Akureyri area, for the past months. The majestic creatures have been, oddly, staying in the north of the country instead of going south of the world. Scientists say their presence is in full bloom in the fjord, as never before, reports RÚV. Besides being a joy for the sight of eager travelers and curious locals, the whales have also been often making themselves be heard, with mating noises echoing in Iceland’s northern capital, Akureyri.

In recent years, Akureyri watched as the humpback whale communities grew larger and larger and as, noticeably, whale-watching tourism went the same direction. “It’s a little bit strange, we’ve been going on a few trips now around the beginning of the year, and we’re seeing upwards of 10 humpbacks each trip,” said Adalsteinn Svan Hjelm, marketing manager of Whale Watching Hauganes, when the phenomenon was first reported by RÚV in 2019.

The locals were used to the whales waving their fins good-bye just around the turn of the year, for the past few years, but have been surprised to find dozens of whales staying longer and longer each year, making Eyjafjörður their winter residence.

While usually, the females would start their reproductive phase in the Caribbean, a change in the environment has made them choose to stay where the food is, and that’s Eyjafjörður. “We know now that there are both male and female [whales] in the area. The males even sing; mating songs and attraction songs, like ‘look at me, I’m great’,” says Edda Elísabet Magnúsdóttir, a whale researcher working in the area. “And they do this during mating season when they’re fertile. There’s a lot that indicates that they’re showing off and trying to get a mate here in the northern regions and decide not to leave.”

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