For a Price, Tourists in Iceland Follow Whalers Harpooning Whales

minke whale photo

Photo: Martin Cathrae

I'll never forget when I was a child and we went whale watching in Hawaii. The shear magnitude and grace of these gigantic creatures was indescribable. It was the first time I became aware of the vastness of the ocean and all the glorious creatures it housed. Tourism can be a great way to reconnect with nature and remember why you care so much about preserving it. And tourism can also illustrate instances of blatant irresponsibility. But in Iceland the problem goes far beyond irresponsibility, it's downright brutal. Last week marked the launch of Whale Watching With Whalers, a four hour tour which allows tourists not only to come along to watch minke whales being harpooned but then to sample the grilled whale afterwards.Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society (WDCS) reports that today it's the tourists in Iceland that are consuming much of the whale meat. In fact, 35 to 40 percent of minke whale meat is eaten by tourists.

According to the organization, tourists are propping up the commercial whaling industry:

For [tourists] it's probably just one of those things they 'have' to try while they're over there; when in Rome, and all that... the irony is that fewer and fewer residents of the country are choosing to eat whale meat now


And most recently came the launch of Whale Watching With Whalers. According to Whaler, this is what the trip entails:

  • be on a whaling wessel

  • see and hear shot from our harpoon

  • taste our grilled and raw whalemeat

  • see minke whale and other commonly seen whales

  • see our showroom, witch takes you through the history of whaling in Iceland

  • see internal organs of the minke whale

  • expert live guides

The idea that anyone would want to see such a gruesome, painful, bloody travesty is mind boggling. These are gorgeous animals killed in a completely inhumane way. What's worse, whale meat is showing up on more and more plates in Iceland. Today over 100 restaurants in Iceland serve it up.

Minke whales are the smallest of the baleen whales and the only one that can leap all the way out of the water and reenter like a dolphin. Their numbers are 149,000 in the North Atlantic, 25,000 in the northwest Pacific and Okhotsk sea but there is no clear listing of their numbers in the Southern Hemisphere, according to the International Whaling Commission.

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