In the past few years, tourism has been the main economic structure in Húsavík. This town, that traditionally lived only on fishing and occasionally whaling, realised that the presence of whales in their area could be exploited in a different way. The boats that were dedicated to hunting them were converted into boats designed for whale watching. Soon, it became the main economic activity for this remote place.
However, the lack of whale watching regulations in the area make this tourism unsustainable. The overexploitation of this activity has an environmental impact, generating noise pollution which could potentially threaten the ecosystems where the cetaceans live. Some researchers fear that the whales could migrate to another area, taking with them the town’s economic support.
As an alternative to this uncertainty, a solar panel manufacturing company has been set up on the outskirts of the town, creating jobs and wealth. But with its presence in the bay, there has been a noticeable increase in noise pollution. The rise in sea traffic to import and export materials and production will most certainly affect the ecosystem of these feeding grounds known to the whales, contributing to the initial problem.
In the midst of this complex situation there are people trying to change things around and prevent harm coming to this beautiful corner of the planet. Among them are Pierre Lang, a nautical engineer, and Belén García, a marine biologist, who both collaborate with the local Research Center. Their project consists of the placement of various hydrophones at key points in the bay, measuring the noise produced by the boats that pass by. Then comparing and analyzing the recordings to study how these disturbances affect the frequencies emitted and perceived by whales.
Voices of Skjálfandi takes a look at the impact of mass tourism on the small Icelandic town of Húsavík and the marine life of its bay. Although the respect for whales, animals that were once used for meat and oil, has grown, the alarming increase of whale watching activities could lead to the disappearance of whales in the bay, urging a search for economic alternatives for the town’s survival if this should happen. These are the pillars of a documentary that tries to reflect the dilemmas and concerns of a community that revolves around the whale.