Reykjavík City Pond to Get Four More Islands

Tjörnin Reykjavík Pond

The Reykjavik City Planning and Environmental Council introduced proposed changes to the Reykjavík City Pond (Tjörnin) yesterday, June 22, which include the construction of four new islands.

Proposals for renovating the existing islands and constructing new islands in Tjörnin were presented at the Reykjavik City Planning and Environmental Council this week. It is currently planned to build four new islands in the pond. Currently, Tjörnin has two islets. The larger, northern islet is more visible from downtown. It is around the smaller, southern islet that the proposed new islands will be clustered.

The larger island will also be enlarged and renovated with new gravel, as it has shrunk due to erosion. The changes are intended to benefit bird life in the pond.

Tjörnin is a part of a larger wetland area, consisting of the pools and ponds stemming from the Vatnsmýri marshlands. A stream initially connected Tjörnin to the sea, and this was mostly left untouched as Reykjavík grew in the later part of the 18th century and into the 19th century. In 1911, the city was built over the stream, using it instead as a sewer system.

The latest planned additions to the city pond will not be the only modifications made to it. Over the years, city planners took steps to turn the pond into the modern Tjörnin. In 1913, locks were installed in the pond’s outlet to prevent seawater from surging into the pond. A pedestrian bridge was erected in 1920, cutting the pond in two. The bridge was widened and reinforced to support vehicles during the Second World War.

The project is still in its planning stage. More information can be found at the Reykjavík City website.

Don’t Feed Birds Bread in Summer, Says City of Reykjavík

Giving bread to ducklings on Reykjavík Pond could turn them into seagulls’ dinner, according to a notice from the City of Reykjavík. The pond (Tjörnin) is known for its vibrant birdlife, including ducks, swans, and geese, which both locals and tourists enjoy visiting. The city has asked visitors to stop bringing along bread for the birds, however, as it attracts seagulls to the pond, which are then more likely to feed on ducklings as well.

“With an increase in lesser black-backed gulls at Tjörnin comes an increase in the likelihood that newly hatched ducklings will become their prey,” the notice reads. “Ducks have enough food for themselves and their ducklings at Tjörnin throughout the summer and therefore it’s not necessary to feed them. A large quantity of bread can increase the organic pollution in the pond, especially because the number of birds increases dramatically when the gulls show up to the pond. The droppings from the birds, as well as the bread itself, increases organic pollution.”

While the city asks visitors to avoid feeding the ducks between May 15 and August 15, the same is not true for the rest of the year. “It’s safe to feed the birds in Tjörnin throughout the fall and winter months and such support is welcome, especially when the weather is at its coldest during midwinter, as food for ducks can be of short supply during that time of year.”

Vigil to Commemorate Nuclear Bombing Victims Will Be Virtual This Year

The annual candle floating ceremony to commemorate the victims of the US nuclear bombing of the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki will not take place in person at Tjörnin pond in downtown Reykjavík this year, Vísir reports. In deference to the more stringent social distancing measures now in place to quell a recent jump in community transmitted infections, organizers will record a smaller, more sparsely attended event and stream it online.

The victims of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings have been memorialized during the annual candle floating vigil every year since 1985.

This year’s online vigil will be streamed on August 6, although the event itself will take place at 11pm on the evening before, to mark the time that the nuclear bomb exploded in Hiroshima 75 years ago.

Little Mersausage Meets Tragic Fate

The Little Mersausage statue that’s stood in Tjörnin pond since late October met a tragic fate on Thursday, Vísir reports. Reykjavíkers woke to find that the artwork—which has divided opinions, to say the least—had been decapitated. It is as yet unclear if The Little Mersausage came to this end during an unusually strong wind, or if vandals are behind the damage.

The sculpture was installed as part of the Cycle Music and Art Festival and raised some eyebrows for its resemblance to a phallus. But while Artist Steinunn Gunnlaugsdóttir acknowledged the similarity, she said it wasn’t the original point of the work, which, among other things, was meant to celebrate Iceland’s 100-year anniversary as a sovereign nation.

The Mersausage also struck a pose similar to that of the famous sculpture of H.C. Andersen’s Little Mermaid, which is famously perched alongside a Copenhagen waterway, and coincidentally, has been beheaded a number of times herself. Icelandic artist Nína Sæmundsson also sculpted her own bronze version of the Danish sculpture, which has been a resident of Tjörnin pond since 2014.

Bjarni Brynjólfsson, the City of Reykjavík’s public relation officer, had no comment on the damage, as he’d only just seen that The Mersausage was no longer standing in the pond when he was contacted by Vísir.

See pictures of the damage here.


Candlelight Vigil for Nuclear Disarmament Held in Reykjavík

The Kertafleyting, a candlelight vigil protesting nuclear weapons, was held in Reykjavík on Thursday night, reports. The well-attended event, which has been held annually since 1985, commemorates the victims of the 1945 nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki while also urging nations around the world to abolish nuclear weapons entirely.

Attendees floated candles on the surface of Tjörnin pond and also listened to speakers including Hjörtur Pálsson, who read his poem “Klukkurnar í Nagasaki,” or “The Clocks in Nagasaki,” as well as Sigursteinn Másson, a representative of the International Fund for Animal Welfare in Iceland and Norway, who delivered a speech. The event was moderated by Sólveig Anna Jónsdóttir, the chairman of Efling labor union.

“These weapons are still today one of the greatest threats to mankind’s existence,” read an announcement from the Coalition for Peace. “And immense amounts of money are being devoted to their continued development. The likeliness of nuclear weapons being employed, either by accident or deliberately, has rarely been higher. The United Nations has drafted an accord, banning nuclear weapons and we urge Icelandic pacifist policy makers to sign and ratify that agreement.”

Too Wet to Return Mermaid to Pond

As sharp-eyed sculpture enthusiasts may have noticed, the bronze mermaid statue that has long perched in the pond alongside Hljómskálagarður park in downtown Reykjavík has been missing for months. reports that the statue toppled into the pond during stormy weather last November. It has since been restored, but wet weather conditions have prevented it from being returned to the pond.

“There was more damage to her than we thought[…]We’ve repaired her and she’s been ready since February,” explained Sig­urður Trausti Trausta­son, the department head at the Reykjavík Art Museum, which oversees the sculpture garden.

Hafmeyan, (The Mermaid) by Icelandic sculptor Nína Sæmundsson, was a gift to the City of Reykjavík in 2014 from Smáralind shopping center in the neighbouring town of Kópavogur. It was introduced as part of the new statue garden in the park, which celebrates the foremothers of Icelandic sculpture.

An identical statue by the sculptor stood in the pond from August 1959 until New Year’s Day 1960, when it was blown up. The current mermaid was cast in bronze using the artist’s original mould from 1948.

Sigurður Trausti says that the mermaid’s foundation has been reinforced so that hopefully, she’ll be less likely to topple into the pond again in the future. However, the recent months of rain have prevented the museum from returning the mermaid to her post. “…It’s been raining for many months and so it isn’t possible to drive a crane into the garden and hoist her up on the pedestal without damaging the grass.” However, it’s hoped that conditions will soon be dry enough to return the mermaid to her home.