Greinasafni: Söfn
Massive Marine Mammals
Europe’s Only Museum Dedicated Exclusively to Whales
The immense skeleton of a sperm whale hangs from the rafters of Húsavík’s Whale Museum. The second floor spotlights complete whale skeletons for those who want to learn more about whales than brief glimpses seen when whale-watching. Visitors to the museum can leisurely take in details of some of the world’s largest mammals at Europe’s only museum dedicated exclusively to whales.
Opened in 1997, Húsavík’s whale museum has evolved its exhibits with up-to-date information provided in collaboration with a research centre based in Húsavík. The museum is divided into two floors with the first floor focusing on the behaviour, environment, and biology of whales while the second floor displays skeletons of stranded whales which were donated to the museum. Several rare whale species are found on the second floor, including a narwal with its characteristic protruding tooth.

Man and the Whales
Húsavík’s whale museum outlines the discussion of human influence on whales through both whaling and environmentally destructive behaviours. On the first floor, a documentary detailing the history of whaling plays alongside a display of weaponry used for hunting. Icelanders have not had a long history with whaling, although other nations have come to exploit Icelandic waters for whales and other sea life. A complicated relationship exists between humans and whales which alternates between a desire to continue whaling traditions and a commitment to preserving species.
Whaling is not the only threat to whales’ survival, which depends on plentiful fish stocks and clean water to survive. The effect of chemicals that run off into ocean water and certain fishing practices such as bottom trawling have decimated whale populations. The use of sonar equipment has caused whales to beach themselves by confusing their internal sonar and leading them into shallow waters from which they cannot escape. Húsavík’s whale museum describes all the threats facing whales in the hope of educating the public about these problems.

Understanding through Research
Iceland has a special relationship with whales. Twenty-three species frequent the waters around Húsavík spending the summer fattening up in Iceland’s rich feeding grounds before migrating to give birth in the warm waters of the Caribbean. Húsavík’s unique position as a summer home for migrating whales makes it ideal for research and public education by providing people with greater understanding not only of whales but the problems facing the global environment.

Húsavík Whale Museum
Hafnarstétt 1 • 640 Húsavík
+354 414 2800

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