May Expedition 2021

by Belén García Ovide
May 18, 2021

A journey with a clear purpose: “keep alive what brings you life“

Recently, we set off for a week on our fifth expedition along the Icelandic coast onboard the magnificent electric Schooner Ópal. The feeling of being on one of the few vessels setting sails for an adventure during still difficult Covid times is teaching us something important: if you truly believe in something it will happen, and that is how, after a path of uncertainty and obstacles, our so desired journey finally began…

Coinciding with the spring annual explosion of life at the Icelandic coast, Ópal set sail from Húsavík, home for us and the whales. This time, we had a group of young enthusiastic women from different nationalities, and our friend Bill from the USA, coming together to get inspired, to witness and learn about the problems that our oceans are facing, to develop skills, to make connections and to work together to make a difference.

Many people travel to Iceland to experience the unique nature and vast landscapes that this land can offer, but very few people have explored the wonders of the island from the ocean, which brings a whole new perspective.

Extraordinary wildlife, huge cliffs, glaciers, huge nesting bird colonies and whales; everything connected by the oceans, the wind and the currents. Now that we were at sea it all made perfect sense and we were just part of it, witnessing the most fascinating phenomenon of nature: life!

After that, emotions were a mix between extreme gratitude and worry about losing some of these treasures. When you realize that you are so interconnected with nature and part of the whole system, something pulls straight at your heart, it feels like the survival instinct asking you to save your home, that suddenly it is not just your house, but the entire planet. After a touching experience like this, most people experience a meaningful change inside them, as they evolve into a more natural and humble human being, with a mindset based on respect and self-responsibility towards the natural world.

When we arrived to Siglufjörður (small town in the North) we did a beach clean-up and a 100 m survey in a place that we cleaned previously 8 months before. It is soul stirring to discover that on that same beach we collected over 350 kilograms of trash, with most of it being fishing gear such as ropes and nets. This is just an example of how our oceans are suffocated due the huge plastic pollution problem. Even in remote areas near the Westfjords we found pieces of buoys, fish containers and other domestic trash.

Once we sailed over the Westfjords, the weather was stunning! More than seven humpback whales were feeding and roaming freely in the sunset lights of a calm evening outside Ísafjörður, where we also deployed our manta trawl in the water for one of our microplastic surveys.

Magic colours, eternal sunsets, and favourbale winds to sail! The ocean was unusally very calm when we were sailing by Snaefellsnes peninsula so we could witness some of probably the most extraordinary natural ladscapes in Iceland. We got close to the guillemot colonies, hidden caves and anchored below Snæfellsjökull glacier.

And the wind kept blowing on our side taking us all the way to Reykjavík where we ended our journey… And how priviledge are we when we think that that before saying bye to our participants we could still go and see the outstanding volcano that is still erupting in Geldingadalir? The best natural spectacle that made us finish our adventure with tears of emotion to think how wonderful our planet is!

Video by Cat Köppel

Recent posts
Translate »