Each year, researches of whales are becoming a bigger part of Skjálfandi Bay
Ever since North Sailing began offering regular whale and nature watching in Skjálfandi Bay the company has striven to assist scholars and researchers, both Icelandic and foreigners, to perform various marine biology studies in the bay.
At first this was only explored occasionally but in the last few years the researches are becoming a bigger part of daily life in the bay.
Shortly after the Whale Museum was established, volunteers from the museum started collecting data, mainly photographs and GPS coordinates, which has always been done aboard North Sailing’s boats in good cooperation with North Sailing’s crew.
Because of this data collecting, the Whale Museum now owns a large data base which both scholars all over the world, and professions like tourism, can now make use of.
In the year 2007 a new chapter in Marine biology researches in Skjálfandi Bay was written when the University of Iceland hired Marianne Rasmussen as a director of the Húsavík research centre
Marianne, who is Danish, has a Ph.D. in marine biology from the Odense University and her doctoral thesis dealt with white-beaked dolphins, mainly in Icelandic waters, with the focus on communication of the dolphins which she did e.g. with sound recordings.
The main focus of the Húsavík research centre now is marine mammals.
Since Marianne settled in Húsavík she has been working hard in her researches of marine mammals, mainly in Skjálfandi Bay, and when enquired she claims that North Sailing has been a big support in all her work and she mentions the company in everything she publishes.
She receives a number of marine biology students from all over the world every year that volunteer in her researches. She supervises four Ph. D. students and two BS students so in total twelve students have been under her supervision.
In addition, her students have also had volunteers working for them, so Húsavík has therefore become the temporary home for a great number of students.
In the years 2008 and 2009 Marianne held a 12 days course in cooperation with the University of Saint Andrews in Scotland and North Sailing, which included a field researche on marine mammals, both on land and sea. At sea the students collected photographs, GPS coordinates and put a recording cable underwater to listen to whale sounds.
The 1st of September in 2008 Edda moved to Húsavík to work on her Ph. D. research and stayed on and off in Húsavík until 2010. In the year 2009 she had four volunteers working for her, two from Italy, one from Mexico and one American. And in the year 2010 the volunteers were five, from USA and Canada.
Edda’s main focus is the distribution abundance of whales the whole year round with a new methodology.
Edda and her assistants use various methods while researching both at the shore and at sea. On shore they stayed in the Húsavík Lighthouse where they had a good view over the bay and could watch marine mammals, mainly whales, and record positions and behavior. They also utilized North Sailing’s boats and crew with good results, either by joining a scheduled whale watching tour or in some cases on special tours as well as having access to the company’s zodiacs.
One of the things Edda and Marianne do, when researching, is recording sound from marine mammals. They do that both by using a special recording cable but also they have put two Ecological Acoustic Recorders (EAR): https://www.northsailing.is/news/nr/2095/scientific-researches-in-skjalfandi-bay/ to the bottom of the sea, in two parts of the bay, which record all sounds from the area to a hard drive.
Every three to four months they go out on a boat, the recorders are burnt loose from the bottom with a remote control and taken to land where the hard drive is emptied, before the recorders are put out again.
During the summer it is practical to use the small zodiac for these tours but in the winter they often need to take out bigger boats because of the weather.
These recordings have turned out to be really successful and they have given a great amount of information but it will take a long time to process this information.
Maria came to Húsavík for the first time in 2008 and stayed for four weeks to work on her Ph. D. thesis about blue whales. Maria, who comes form Denmark, has been travelling to Húsavík ever since to perform her researches for a few weeks every year.
A great number of other students, both from Iceland and abroad, have come to stay in Húsavík, researching the life in Skjálfandi Bay as a part of their studies or final papers in various fields.
All these people who have been researching in the area the last years agree on how extremely important these researches are for the whole field worldwide because knowledge of behaviour, feeding, choice of food and a lot of other things concerning whales, is defective and it’s clear that this is only the beginning of a huge project.
This has put Húsavík on the map of the world’s research community. It involves a great publicity for the Skjálfandi Bay and the town of Húsavík and makes a great difference when it comes to expanding the profession and having a positive influence on environmental behaviour.
Marianne collecting Plankton with a spesial pocet net
Marianne, Maria with Heimir, getting ready to enter on board Bjössa Sör
Marianne got her feet wet
Research people on top of the weelhouse on Náttfari
On top of the weelhouse on Bjössi Sör
The group who did the university-centre course in 2009
Edda and her priceless recording sound buoy
Edda is getting the recording sound buoy ready for release
Edda and Marianne in the februar cold
Edda and Guðmundur the egineer on Náttfari, find contact with the recording sound buoy
The boat is passing Cape Húsavík. In that lighthouse most of the Research from land take place
Edda is launching the recording cable from our boat Knörrinn
Few of the Research people is watching the computer skreen who is collecting
the sounds from the cable. downstears in Knörrinn
On top of our boat Bjössi Sör
Research people and the crew on top of Knörrinn
something must be happening