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Pod of Pilot Whales Unexpectedly Spotted in Westfjords

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Pod of Pilot Whales Unexpectedly Spotted in Westfjords

Photo: Screenshot of video by Jóhannes Jónsson; via RÚV

A large and lively pod of pilot whales was spotted in Hestfjörður fjord in Iceland’s Westfjords yesterday, RÚV reports. Jóhannes Jónsson, a photographer for the news agency, was conveniently on the scene to capture the moment in a video which he set to the song “Flight from the City,” by Icelandic composer Jóhann Jóhannsson.

Gísli Víkingsson, a marine biologist at the Marine and Freshwater Research institute who specializes in whales, says that it’s rare for pilot whales to venture so far north but said that it’s possible that their appearance in Iceland’s waters can be credited to warming ocean temperatures. Their behaviour, however, was very much in keeping with typical pilot whales, who are social by nature and travel in large pods.

Although pilot whales are not typically seen in Icelandic waters, however, they've lingered around Icelandic fjords for the last month or so, much to the concern of many. Earlier this month, pilot whales were repeatedly herded out of Kolgrafafjörður in West Iceland by Search and Rescue crews who were concerned they'd become stuck in the narrow and rather comparatively shallow fjord. It does not appear to be known if the whales seen in Hestfjörður were the same ones as were enjoying coastal waters a little further south earlier this month.

Watch Jóhannes’ full video of the pilot whales on RÚV here.

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