Icelandic jewellers are interested in buying teeth and bones from the carcasses of the fifty pilot whales which beached themselves on Snæfellsnes peninsula. The whales were found in Löngufjörur beach in Snæfellesnes in last week by American travellers. The landowner of Litla-Hraun, where the whales were found, warns the public that travelling in the area can be dangerous.
The whale beaching is thought to be the largest one in more than thirty years, as more than fifty whales beached themselves. Þorgrímur Leifsson is one two land-owners in the area. “It’s naturally a little bit weird and sad as well to see the whales there next to their little calves,” he said.
Specialists from the Marine Research Institute will head to the area tomorrow to inspect the area and collect samples. According to Þorgrímur, the animals will not be disposed of. “We plan to go and remove their teeth, then we’ll wait for the bones to reveal themselves and we’ll see what we’ll do with them. A jeweller contacted me and he wants both bones and teeth.” Þorgrímur says he doesn’t know how much the teeth and bones are worth, but a Reykjavík jeweller has already stated interest in them. There’s already considerable traffic in the area. “When I arrived yesterday there were eight planes, as well as jeeps, motorcycles, and quite a crowd. I believe it’s not safe for everyone to go there. You need to know the area to get down there. People need to respect the sea,” Þorgrímur explained. “It’s not the plan for the public to head down there, as it’s really quite dangerous.”
Marine biologist Edda Elísabet Magnúsdóttir said that there are any number of reasons that a pod of whales might accidentally swim into a dangerous area. For one thing, pilot whales are pack animals with strong social bonds, and do not easily abandon members of their pod.
Edda Elísabet also explained that there are strong tidal and seabed currents in the Löngufjörur area and that this could have made it harder for the whales to get back out to sea. Pilot whales depend on sonar for navigation, but sonar would have been quite limited in the area. That also might account for the whales getting stranded when the tide went out.