Minkes Chase Mackerel, Confuse Icelandic Whalers

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Minkes Chase Mackerel, Confuse Icelandic Whalers

It appears that minke whales have changed their diet, now chasing after mackerel whose presence is increasing in Icelandic waters. This change of habit confuses Icelandic minke whalers as they can’t find minkes in the usual locations anymore.

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Whaling in Iceland. Copyright: Icelandic Photo Agency.

Gunnar Bergmann Jónsson, managing director of minke whaling company Hrefnuveidimenn, told Fréttabladid that is important to find the whales because the demand for minke is high on the Icelandic market.

“We have seen when we open up the minke that it is filled with mackerel,” Jónsson stated. “And as we know the mackerel is in rapid movement and the minke seems to be chasing it which makes it more difficult for us to find.”

Minke whalers used to head out to Faxaflói bay off Reykjavík but now they will search for minkes in Breidafjördur, further to the north.

Magnús Gunnthórsson, captain of the whale watching boat Elding, said he has often found minke whales but they move unusually quick.

Ólafur Júlíusson, purchasing manager of Kaupás, said tons of minke whale meat is sold in the company’s stores. “Among BBQ products, the marinated minke whale meat is the most popular. That excludes the sale of minke from our meat desks.”

Minke is also a popular dish at restaurants. Elísabet Jean Skúladóttir, operating manager at the Sea Baron by the Reykjavík harbor, said the sale of minke has increased by almost three times in the past three years.

“There are mainly foreign tourists who order minke whale meat but I have also noticed that it is becoming increasingly popular among Icelanders,” she said.

No fin whales will be caught in Iceland this year.

Click here to read more about that story and here to read more about mackerel in Icelandic waters.

ESA