Elizabeth Phillips | Monday, November 17, 2014
“Spotting whales in Artic Norway proves elusive”
This expedition is based in Andenes, which is supporting a growing whale watching industry. I wasn't going to pass up the opportunity to be in the iconic northern Norwegian fjordlands and to see several varieties of whale.
I was part of a small team of volunteers scheduled to watch for and record details of whales and harbour porpoise spotted from the local ferry, town lighthouse and whale watching boats. The data helps to see how tourism impacts marine animal behaviour.
Unfortunately, due to strong winds both of the boat trips I was scheduled to be on were cancelled. Although, on one day, boats did go out when the weather improved (and several whales were in the area) we were not rescheduled to take advantage of the changed conditions.
Nor did we spot anything on the ferry or from the lighthouse.
A good part of our days was spent doing data entry or helping with educational presentations. Important, yes, but disappointing when it is all you have to do and it isn't your own data you are working on.
Our consolation was an unscheduled trip to the breathtaking lofoton region to do a 24-hr watch on a minke whale in a sheltered harbour. It was exhausting but very rewarding. We were very lucky that this opportunity arose, but it is not a normal part of what this expedition offers and we paid our own way to do it.
More collaboration between the researchers and the whale-watching industry might help future volunteers to do the job they came to do.
Those whales are out there!