WHALE WATCHING IN ICELAND
Whales have for centuries had a strong place in the Icelandic society. Icelandic folktales and proverbs indicate the importance of whales in earlier times and some of them tell stories of fascinating interactions between humans and cetacean.
The idea of whale watching in Iceland is believed to have first been set out in 1948 by Jóhannes Kjarval, a famous Icelandic painter and conservationist. His idea was to build a ‘Whale Peace Vessel’ that would substitute the whaling operation that was under construction at the time. It wasn’t though until 1991 that Kjarval’s ideas came through and the first whale watching tour was run on a chartered fishing vessel from Höfn in Hornarfjörður and again in 1992.
The formal start of the operation is though considered 1995 following a whale watching workshop in Keflavík lead by WDC and the Reykjanes Tourist Board. The first scheduled tours were operated from Húsavík and Keflavík and since then the operation has grown exponentially and is now run in many locations, including the capital area. The summer months have generally been considered the high season for whale watching in Iceland but the winter months have increasingly proved an exciting and adventurous whale watching period.
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