Dozens of pilot whales trapped again

Rescue teams driving the whales out of the fjord last ...

Rescue teams driving the whales out of the fjord last night. mbl.is/Alfons Finnsson

 Dozens of pilot whales, saved by rescue workers last night after being trapped in Kolgrafarfjörður fjord, West Iceland, are most likely back in the fjord this morning, according to Einar Strand, regional manager of ICE-SAR (Icelandic Association for Search and Rescue) in Snæfellsnes, told mbl.is.

Rescue workers in Grundarfjörður, West Iceland, succeeded last night in saving between 30 and 40 pilot whales, trapped in Kolgrafarfjörður fjord, on the north side of the Snæfellsnes peninsula. The whales had swum into the fjord yesterday afternoon, but due to strong currents at the mouth of the fjord, they were unable to get back out.

Rescue workers waited for the tide to ebb and then used boats to herd the whales. They succeeded in making them swim under the bridge that goes over the fjord, where the current was the strongest.

“We herded them a long way out the fjord; then, they began swimming and went out to sea,” Einar Strand told Morgunblaðið.

“This was a great spectacle; I’ve never seen pilot whales jump before, even though I’m quite familiar with the species, since I’m partly from the Faroe Islands, where they are often seen,” remarked Alfons Finnsson, reporter for Morgunblaðið, who was on location.

The whales drew large crowds of people, who watched the whales and the rescue effort with interest.

This morning, Einar told mbl.is that he’s not certain whether rescue workers will respond again, if the reports prove right. He said the attention the whales drew last night created a hazard on land, because numerous tourists stopped their cars on the bridge and were absent-minded at the wheel.

Kolgrafarfjörður fjord was frequently in the news at the end of 2012 and the beginning of 2013, when herring got trapped in the fjord in large numbers and subsequently got killed.

Photo/Alfons Finnsson

Tourists, observing the whales yesterday.

Tourists, observing the whales yesterday. Photo/Alfons Finnsson

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