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Iceland Mag

Culture

Enter the world of the gentle giants

By Sara McMahon

  • The big blue The exhibition Whales of Iceland, located in a 1,700 square metre (18,299 square feet) large space in the Grandi harbour area of Reykjavík, was formally opened at the end of February this year. Photo/Vilhelm Gunnarsson

The Whales of Iceland exhibition is the largest of its kind in Europe, with twenty-three handmade, life-size specimen models on display.

 

The exhibition Whales of Iceland, located in a 1,700 square metre (18,299 square feet) large space in the Grandi harbour area of Reykjavík, was formally opened at the end of February this year. The exhibition is the largest of its kind in Europe, with twenty-three handmade, life-size specimen models on display, some of which weigh up to 2 tonnes (4,409 pounds). The exhibition shines a spotlight on the whales found off the coast of Iceland, their biology and behaviour.

"I’d say the star of the show is most definitely the sperm whale in all its glory.”

The exhibition is the brainchild of local entrepreneur Hörður Bender. With the support of the Landsbréf Icelandic Tourism Fund, he worked closely with marine biologists, lighting designers, stage designers, architects, and other experts to create a fantastic experience for guests of all ages.

Icelanders have flocked to Whales of Iceland following its grand opening and, according to Sædís Guðmundsdóttir, the exhibition’s managing director, they have shown great interest in learning more about these gentle giants that roam the North Atlantic Ocean.

“So far, the majority of our guests are locals, but we also see a lot of foreigners as well as groups of school children who come here to learn,” Sædís explains. The show’s most popular specimen is the sperm whale. Known for its unique body shape and its huge, block-shaped head, it is one of the most easily recognisable whale species, and Sædís says guests love to strike a pose while standing next to the gigantic animal.

“The exhibition presents guests with many fantastic photo opportunities, and we encourage people to take photographs and share them with friends and family, and of course, with us. I’d say the star of the show is most definitely the sperm whale in all its glory.”
 

 

Whales of Iceland, hvalasafn, hvalir

The sperm whale is the star of the show. Photo/Vilhelm Gunnarsson

 

 

A giant hunter of squid

The sperm whale, the most popular specimen featured in the Whales of Iceland exhibition, is unlikely to be confused with other whale species due to its large, block-shaped head. It is not only the largest of the toothed whales, it also has the largest and heaviest brain of any living animal.

Sperm whales can weigh up to a staggering 45 tonnes (99208 pounds) and measure up to 20 metres (66 ft) in length.
They feed mainly on squid, octopuses, and other deep water fish, but they also prey upon sharks and skates. They are thought to consume approximately 3 percent of their body weight per day. When hunting, the sperm whale will dive to depths of up to 3,000 metres (9,842 ft), with each dive lasting up to two hours. 

Where: Fiskislóð 23-25
Opening hours: Daily between 9 am and 6 pm
See: Whalesoficeland.is

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