In the last couple of days I have had three experiences that involved whales.

  • A whale watching experience.
  • An unusual event, coming across a beached whale on a beach stroll.
  • And finally last night I had whale steak for dinner.

All deserve some commentary.

First, the whale watching trip.  Went out to sea from the wonderfully small town (2,200 population) of Husavik on one of the northern peninsulas of Iceland.  Some 30 miles from the Artic Circle.  Dressed to survive if for some reason our zodiac ran into trouble.

First, we visited Puffin Island which I described in an earlier blog post.  Then we headed out into the North Atlantic Ocean to search for whales.  The reason they are located here in the summer is that the glacially fed streams that flow into the Atlantic here do so with many nutrients which in turn attracts tons of bait and other fish which in turns attracts whales.  Several different types of whales hang out in this area.  We were lucky enough to see two types — the minke (on the left) and the humpback (on the right). There are at least 11 if not more types of whales. In the northwest of the USA we are familiar with orca or killer whales.  The other types include blue, fin, sei, bowhead, narwhal, sperm, and pilot whales among others.   On our trip there were no dramatic moments with whales breaching or anything like that, but still an impressive moment or two when you see these very large mammals in the wild.  Another chance to admire and relish the nature that we are privileged to be able to live in and be compatible with.

Second, unexpectedly I came across a beached whale on a beach stroll.  I have no idea how long it had been there but I am suspecting for some time.  This brings up the question of what do you do with a beached dead whale.  Letting it decay naturally will take a loooong time.  Removing it I would suspect is not feasible.  This whale is huge.  Another option is blowing the whale up.

I am just beginning to research this but apparently blowing up the whale with dynamite has been tried before with terrible results.  search for Oregon in 1970.  they will never do it again.  It created an unbelievable mess as far as a 1/4 mile around and still left half the carcass lying on the beach.

This is kind of a cool question and one that you don’t face too often.  What do you do with a beached dead whale?   If any of you have a creative idea, please let me know.

Finally, I had the opportunity to eat whale last night.  Never before have I had whale for dinner.  It was very good.  As many of you know, I do not eat meat.  However, the whale tasted like steak.  It was delicious.  However it was not flakey like other fish.  Nor did it melt in your mouth, the way a wonderfully cooked salmon will.  No.  this was much tougher.  I had to use a steak knife to cut my whale steak into bite sized pieces.  It was very good, but just a different fish experience than what I am used to.

Eating whale. Some of you may be wondering what in the hell are you doing, Neil, eating whale.  Don’t you know that they are endangered?  Well, it turns out that the whale I was eating is from the minke whale, which is not endangered and is relatively abundant.

however, your point is a good one.  how can i be eating whale steak on a menu in a restaurant in Iceland when the International Whaling Commission banned all whaling for the countries signing on in 1986, which included Iceland?  the only exceptions were for scientific research purposes.

it turns out that it is a little bit more complicated than that.  yes, Iceland, Norway and Japan continued at times to commercially hunt whales after the IWC agreement was signed by all.  Iceland reopened its minke whale hunting in 2006 but last year stopped it for a variety of reasons, not the least of which was that Japan had reopened its commercial whale hunting.  Japan was Iceland’s market for whale, and now they could not compete with the Japanese whale hunters.  Iceland lost its market. Japan, to my knowledge, is the only country currently commercially hunting whales.

Now in Iceland whale watching is a bigger economic contributor to the economy than whale hunting.

that still does not answer the question of how whale got on the menu.  i apologize for ordering it, but i had to try it.  Based on my experience, I am guessing that there will not be a huge demand for minke whale meat throughout the rest of the industrialized world anytime soon.

4 thoughts on “Whales”

  1. What an experience that, not unexpectantly, you are experiencing with gusto and enthusiasm.
    The whale information and your observations are very interesting as is your outfit?
    Keep enjoying snd blogging?

  2. Fasinating information. I learned a thing or two about whales I didn’t know. For example, I had no idea there were so many species of whales in one location.
    Question: How do they get along with each other?

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