Safety Signs, Cameras Installed at Reynisfjara Beach

Safety signs

Informatory signage has been installed at Reynisfjara beach to better ensure the safety of tourists. Cameras, mounted on masts on the beach ridge, will relay a live stream from the beach to the police authorities in Selfoss.

Creeping waves and a strong undertow

As noted in an article in Iceland Review from 2019, the tides that lap the beautiful black sand beaches of Reynisfjara beach – a popular travel destination near the town of Vík in South Iceland – possess “an immensely strong undertow,” with waves that “creep quickly upon travellers.” As of last summer, five travellers had died on Reynisfjara beach since 2013.

In response to these tragedies, a consultation team was established last summer in order to better ensure the safety of visitors. The consultation team recommended the installation of informatory signage on the beach, which has now been installed. In addition to the signs, a 300-metre-long chain has been strung along the parking lot, guiding visitors along a path and past the signs. Cameras, which have been installed on a mast on the beach ridge, will also stream live video from the beach to the police authorities in Selfoss.

“The signs emphasise information,” a press release from the Icelandic Tourist Board reads, “aiming to make the information accessible and interesting, explaining what can be done in the area – as opposed to simply highlighting what is prohibited. One illuminated sign, which relays information from the Icelandic Road Administration’s wave-prediction system; three big informatory signs, one of which highlights the dangers of the undertow; and six guiding signs have been installed.”

Beach divided into zones according to conditions

The press release also notes that the Reynisfjara beach will never be closed to the public. Instead, the beach will be divided into zones, which will serve to guide visitors based on conditions: a flashing yellow light indicates that visitors should not enter the yellow zone, and a flashing red light indicates that visitors should not enter the red zone (i.e. not past the illuminated sign). Visitors are encouraged to stay on the beach ridge, which affords a safe view of the beautiful scenery.

“The safety measures at Reynisfjara beach will only extend as far as signage, and no lifeguards will be employed at this time. Such a thing could, however, prove a logical next step – if only during those days when conditions are labelled ‘red.’ In order to finance such measures, landowners would need to collect fees from visitors.”

Lastly, the parties affiliated with the consultation team hope that the new safety measures will mean that visitors to the beach will become “more mindful of hazards” and comport themselves accordingly. “Signs, no matter how well designed, will not stop anyone from venturing near the tide; they are, however, useful in keeping most visitors within a safe zone, so as to enjoy the beach in all its majesty.”

The consultation team comprised representatives of landowners, the South Icelandic police, the Icelandic Tourist Board, ICE-SAR, the Icelandic Road Administration, and the Katla Geopark.

Missing Brothers Found in Akureyri

Akureyri Iceland

Two young brothers aged five and six went missing in Akureyri on Friday but were found safe and sound only hours later, having walked 4.5km (2.8mi) from home, RÚV reports.

The boys’ parents woke at 7.00am on Friday to discover that the brothers were gone. Hermann Karlsson, a duty officer with the Akureyri police, said the boys “…just decided when they woke up to go outside and play because in their minds, the day had started – the sun was shining and the weather was good.” The boys started off on their bikes, but then left them behind on Glerárgáta street and continued their journey on foot.

When the children were first reported missing, police decided to immediately ask for any information from the public about their whereabouts on Facebook, and quickly received a number of tips. As it happens, newly installed surveillance cameras on Glerárgata also proved useful. The cameras, which had only been connected the day before, helped police and searchers track the boys’ route.

The brothers’ foster father found them playing at at Naustaskóli school just before 10.00am.

Cameras to Protect Gyrfalcon Nests

Gyrfalcon chick

Nearly 20 cameras will be set up in falcon nesting areas in North Iceland to ward off would-be egg thieves, RÚV reports. Though gyrfalcons have been a protected species in Iceland since 1950, the Icelandic Gyrfalcon Centre reports that “nest predation” by humans, who steal eggs to sell them abroad, continues to be a problem.

The Icelandic Gyrfalcon Centre started limited camera surveillance of nests last year. The cameras went up later in the season, however, after egg-laying had already started. Now the centre aims to put up the cameras before egg-laying starts in mid-April to ward off even the earliest thieves. Ten of the cameras are on loan from an Austrian falcon enthusiast who wanted to help the centre due to his concern for Iceland’s falcon population. The other eight belong to the Gyrfalcon Centre.

Iceland Review Magazine: A day in the life of a gyrfalcon researcher

The surveillance is run in close collaboration with gyrfalcon specialist Ólafur K. Nielsen, who has been monitoring Iceland’s falcon population since 1981. Ólafur says last year was particularly productive for breeding among the birds, largely thanks to a rise in ptarmigan stocks, the falcon’s main source of food. Indications point to 2019 being good – and additional surveillance certainly won’t do any harm.