Sad National Day in Iceland as first harpooned fin whale of the season comes ashore
Just before 3.30pm on Tuesday one of two operational whaling boats belonging to Iceland’s lone fin whaler, Mr. Kristjan Loftsson, brought the first endangered fin whale caught this summer into the whaling station.
Just like last year they did it on The National Day of Iceland and like last year it rained. It started raining just as they came into sight from the harbour and the rain continues to pour as this was written.
About 20 protesters, some Icelandic and some from other countries, were there holding banners outside the station with the slogan ‘What is the point?’. On their faces you could see expressions of horror mixed with shock as the enormous animal was flensed (cut up).
But I noticed some other things too.
In the past the first fin whale dragged into the whaling station has been an occasion of celebration here and a show of pride when politicians, even Icelandic ministers, would have shown up with Loftsson for photo ops next to the carcass of a 25-metre fin whale.
This has changed.
This time no media was in sight and this is the very first time that they have shown no positive interest in the whaling.
This is significant as the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), the local whale watch operators and many others work to change attitudes to whaling in Iceland and instead encourage support for responsible whale watching.
The staff at the whaling station even waved in a friendly manner to us as we stood on the nearby hill overlooking the station, signaling to me less tension towards us and our protests than before.
Perhaps they were trying to say, we understand you but we are just doing our job. I don’t know really, but the old sentiment is completely gone, so is the misunderstood nationalism.
The only Icelandic flags seen were the ones we were holding in protest.
And we hold them high today…
For more information about IFAW efforts to protect whales around the world, visit our campaign page.