Pilot Whale Carcasses Transported by Þór

Vala Hafstað

The carcasses of 53 pilot whales, which beached October 2 in Melavík cove in the Strandir region of the West Fjords, were successfully transported on board the Icelandic Coast Guard ship Þór yesterday afternoon.

The carcasses on board Þór.

The carcasses on board Þór. Photo/Icelandic Coast Guard

Captain Páll Geirdal tells Morgunblaðið that this unusual assignment went well. RIB boats were used to pull the carcasses toward Þór, after which they were heaved on board the ship.

With the carcasses on board, Þór is now en route to north of Langanes point, Northeast Iceland, where the carcasses will be dumped into the ocean about 30 nautical miles off the shore.

The carcasses being transported closer to shore.

The carcasses being transported closer to shore. mbl.is/Jón Guðbjörn Guðjónsson

Sailing that distance of 200 nautical miles is expected to take about 24 hours. Strong ocean currents off Langanes point will then carry the carcasses away from the country.

Schools of pilot whales have beached in Iceland several times in recent years, most frequently in 2019. The reason why they beach is not known, but biologists offer several explanations.

The whales use echolocation for orientation, and some believe that a sloping, sandy bottom may increase their disorientation. Pilot whales swim in tight groups, or schools, which is why many of them tend to beach at once.

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