More from August

Seeing as it’s February now, there’s really no reason I shouldn’t have uploaded these a while ago.  I think that this post will be the last of my travels before school started.

This is a church in Selfoss, a town in southern Iceland where my dad and I stayed while touring about.  You’ll recall that “foss” means waterfall, and  you’ll be pleased to know that “sel” means “seal”.  So the town’s name means “seal waterfall”.  I didn’t see any seals there myself, but there are plenty of large and deadly-looking rapids right near the town, and I suspect these are similar enough to waterfalls to share the same word.

The next two pictures are from a whale-watching trip.  “Why, Bond,” you might ask, “are there oh so few photos of whales?”.  I’ll tell you.  We hardly saw any.  They’re also not particularly photogenic.  Had I not already had my camera on and pointed in the right general direction (by chance, mind you), I don’t think I would have caught this photo.  Again, there are better ways to find pictures of whales off the Icelandic coast.  Many other more talented photographers have had far better luck than I have.  But I’d still like to show off the fact that I saw one at all.  I don’t see many back in Texas, after all.

Behold the elusive Minke Whale.  In all fairness to the whale, Iceland is one of the three nations in the world that still allows whaling, and I reckon boats look and sound kind of similar when viewed from the underside.  Perhaps your luck would be better in more whale-friendly waters elsewhere.

The other two nations that still allow whaling, if you’re curious, are Norway and Japan, the latter of which is still particularly zealous about the practice, or so I’m told.  Iceland, as I understand, imposes fairly strict limitations on the number of whales that can be brought in each year as well as on what species are acceptable to hunt.  I want to say it’s only Fin whales and Minke whales.  The former is endangered, the latter is not.  I have been told by Icelandic classmates that, in fact, if Iceland were to quit whaling, the Minke whale population would get out of control their competition with fish for the same food would put a damper on other nations’ commercial fishing.  I am neither claiming to know a lot about marine biology nor advocating whaling when I say this, only telling you what I have heard.

Reading about the whales in the sagas has also been interesting in connection to this controversy.  As you might have guessed,  whaling was not really practiced during the Middle Ages (as far as the sagas indicate), but beached whales were highly valued by the medieval Icelanders for their meat, so much so that some pretty severe fights broke out over them.  In Fostbræðra Saga, Þormóðr and Þorgeir kill a man for taking more than his fair share of meat from a whale, and Grágás (the “Grey Goose” laws) has very particular laws about how to fairly carve up a beached whale.

All of this is to say that you can see why the whales don’t like to show themselves.  But these guys are happy to grace us with their presence:

Thanks for reading,

B.

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