Langanes peninsula is located in the northeast of Iceland and is characterised by green meadows, hills and cliffs. Very few people live in the area, mostly in small villages and farms. The waters around Langanes are mostly crossed by small fishing boats, without many tourist or large commercial vessels. It is calm and remote, not yet a tourist destination.
However, it might be a hotspot for whales.
Fishers have reported large numbers of humpback whales around Langanes, especially in the summer months, and locals have also seen whales from the cliffs. We personally visited Langanes in 2019 and saw about 10 humpbacks south of the peninsula.
This makes sense since these waters seem to be an ideal feeding ground. Two major oceanic currents converge off the peninsula, capelin is known to be abundant and there are no major interruptions by human activity.
Despite this, the region is very understudied. Apart from capelin surveys, the local ecosystem has not been systematically described. Our knowledge of whales in the area is mostly anecdotal. We hope to address this knowledge gap by focusing our research on a small bay called Finnafjord, on the south side of Langanes. Specifically, we have planned two projects:
Additionally, we will use the recordings to confirm the use of Finnafjord by humpback whales as a habitat and possible feeding ground.
We are especially interested because of a planned port installation in Finnafjord. In the next years, new northern ship routes will open due to a warming climate and melting Arctic. As a result, the bay will be developed to accommodate future ship traffic in the region. Both the construction of the port and its operation will lead to major changes in the ecosystem of the bay. To monitor this impact, it is essential to collect baseline data from a relatively untouched Finnafjord prior to construction.