Þorvaldur Garðar Helgason, a fox hunter from Hólmavík in the eastern West Fjords, noticed a mysterious trail in the snow while on a hunt near the airport at Arngerðareyri in Ísafjörður on Saturday evening. Speculations are rife as to what kind of animal could have left the tracks behind with some suggesting a sea monster having walked onto land.
The tracks ran alongside the road by the bridge across Langadalsá river, just before entering Steingrímsfjarðarheiði mountain pass which connects Ísafjörður and Hólmavík, ruv.is reports.
“I took pictures of the track in the middle of the night and then returned the next day to trace them from the beginning to the end. I traced them into Langidalur [valley] but I lost them there because of drifting snow,” said Þorvaldur.
He then traced them two kilometers (1.4 miles) in the other direction. “There I believed to have found the starting point. There were lots of paw prints from a fox, a blood stain and some marks in the snow indicating a struggle,” Þorvaldur said in description of the scene.
“I hunt foxes and I know their nature. They have no problems catching birds,” Þorvaldur said. The scene was in a snow-covered swamp approximately 300 meters (984 feet) from the shore. “Either the bird—given that it was a bird, that is my theory—has landed in the mouth of a fox or made an emergency landing. There are only two options.”
Þorvaldur shared a picture of the trail on Facebook and a number of people have made suggestions as to what kind of animal could have left them behind. “Most people believed it was a seal but the line in the middle is too narrow.”
Biologist Skarphéðinn Þórisson at the East Iceland Nature Institute is one of those pitching in. “The first thing I thought of was a penguin,” he said.
Then he pointed out that biologist Helgi Hallgrímsson has suggested that otters which have drifted to Iceland may have been considered sea monsters in the past.
However, Skarphéðinn agrees with Þorvaldur that the trail was likely caused by an injured bird, which used its wings to move forward through the snow.
Þorvaldur is pleased with all the attention his picture has garnered. “It’s fun. It has raised questions and speculations. You don’t see such fooling around every day.”
Click here to see Þorvaldur’s video of the trail.