The team of scientists and volunteers from Iceland, UK and as far afield as
Trinidad, has been using modern, non-invasive research techniques to gather
important data on the many species of whales found in Icelandic waters.
Sightings have included rare blue whales, fin whales, humpback whales, sperm
whales, minke whales and white beaked dolphins as well as killer whales and
basking sharks. One aspect of the team’s research has been to record the sounds
of the blue and fin whales, at the same time documenting the behaviour of these
whales at the surface with a technique called video-range tracking. The study
has also included photo-identification of individual blue, humpback and sperm
whales. Analysis of this data will tell us more about the lives and movement
behaviour of these rare and magnificent animals. The team has been fortunate to
encounter blue whales on nine days during the summer, one day with about 10
individuals in the vicinity. The boat spent approximately 43 hours studying the
largest animal on earth. Most of the blue whales were seen very close to
Husavik, an important centre for Iceland’s fast-growing whale watching industry.
Few minke whales have been observed in 2006, however.
leader of the Song of the Whale research team explains:
“Iceland is a remarkable place to study a variety of whales, offering some of
the best opportunities in the world to see and hear large baleen whales such as
blue and fin whales, species which were greatly reduced in numbers by commercial
whaling in the last century. For example, you can see more humpback whales in a
day in the waters of Iceland than you would in a year around the United Kingdom.
The non-invasive techniques we develop and use can tell us much about the
distribution and movements of whales. We thank the Icelandic authorities for
providing us with a permit to carry out our research, and all the Icelandic
participants and members of the public we have met during the summer for their