Króna Continues to Weaken

currency iceland

The króna continues to weaken despite the intervention of the Central Bank of Iceland, RÚV reports. Following a significant drop in value yesterday, the Icelandic currency has weakened by 11% in the last two months.

The weakening of the currency will mean Icelandic consumers will pay more for imported products and online purchases from abroad. One example are Netflix subscriptions, which have gone up by ISK 137 ($1.15/€1) per month.

The weakening króna in combination with rising fuel prices in international markets have also affected gas prices, which were around ISK 210 ($1.77/€1.53) per litre at the beginning of the year and hover at ISK 230 ($1.94/€1.68) per litre today.

Viking Age Thor’s Hammer Found in Iceland

A newly-uncovered Viking Age farmstead in the Icelandic highlands has yielded a unique Thor’s hammer pendant, among other artefacts dating back over 900 years. RÚV reported that a Thor’s hammer carved from sandstone was found last week at the farmstead, which is located in Þjórsárdalur valley and archaeologists have named Bergsstaðir. Only one other such hammer has been found in Iceland. No other stone Thor’s hammers like them have been found anywhere else in the world.

Bergur Þór Björnsson, a local resident, is to thank for the discovery. Bergur’s great grandfather discovered the last of 20 known Viking era farms in the area in 1920. “I just thought it was quite far between the ruins here and started to search just for fun,” he said about the discovery.

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Archaeologists have since uncovered ash and burnt bones at the site, as well as artefacts such as a whetstone and a soapstone pot. The most recent discovery is waste from ironwork, indicating metal forgery was likely carried out on the farmstead.

The found artefacts have been transported to Reykjavík for research, and it seems clear there is much more to be discovered at the site.

Seals Listed Critically Endangered in Iceland

iceland fishing

The spotted seal is critically endangered in Iceland, according to the Icelandic Institute of Natural History’s newest Red List. RÚV reported first. Spotted seals numbered 7,600 in 2016, down from around 33,000 when monitoring of their stocks began in 1980. The animals’ numbers thus decreased around 77% over the 35-year period. If seal numbers continue to decrease at the same rate, they will decrease by 84% over the next 45 years, a time period of three generations for the animals.

The Institute states that spotted seals have very little protection in Iceland and further research is needed to know what is causing their numbers to drop. The decrease has been attributed to seals getting caught in fishing nets, as well as hunting. Though traditional seal hunting is rarely practiced in Iceland, seals are still hunted around estuaries in order to minimise their alleged impact on salmon stocks. Other factors which could affect seal numbers are food shortage, environmental changes, pollution, and disease.

Kristinn Haukur Skarphéðinsson, Head of Zoology at the Institute, says seal “deaths need to be reduced, whatever the causes,” adding that legislation protecting the animals is still “in the mid-19th century.”

WOW air Cuts US Destinations

Icelandic airline WOW air is discontinuing flights from three US destinations, RÚV reports. The airline will stop flights to St. Louis in the beginning of next year and will not be operating summer flights to Cincinnati or Cleveland as it did this year. It is only five months since the airline began flying to the three destinations.

Earlier this month, WOW air discontinued flights to San Francisco, Stockholm, and Edinburgh due to streamlining of operations. The airline’s financial struggles have been reported on in Icelandic media of late, with many concerned about their potential effect on the Icelandic tourism industry. The country’s largest airline Icelandair is facing struggles of its own. It recently laid off 30 employees, citing market competition and rising oil prices as two of their main challenges.

When asked by USA Today about WOW air service to New York and Dallas/Fort Worth, the company’s Director of Communications Svanhvít Friðriksdóttir said no decisions had been made about whether the airline would continue to fly to those destinations in 2019.