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.
My role in this project is to take care of the Production and Communications areas.
Miquel Such is a photographer and filmmaker specialized in the Arctic area. He was educated in Audiovisual Communications in Spain and in Sight and Sound in Finland, where he has taken part in many audiovisual projects.
He loves to travel and explore natural landscapes, and one of his journeys led him to Iceland some years ago. Voices of Skjálfandi is his first documentary as a Director.
John Grothier is a sound engineer and self-taught musician. After receiving his qualifications in Valencia in 2014, he dedicated his time to a multitude of media projects (documentaries, shorts animations and films) while furthering his studies in Audiovisual Communications..
Mariona Sanz is a journalist, producer and writer. Born and raised in Barcelona, she lives now in Northern Finland and combines her tasks in Voices of Skjálfandi with other documentary and communications projects, she works as a tourist guide in Lapland and writes about sustainability, responsible tourism and personal growth.
Belén García is a passionate marine biologist specialized in whales and conservation. She has been involved in marine research projects including whale ecology, distribution and acoustic studies in different parts of Europe. She moved to Iceland in 2014 and started guiding in the whale watching. After finishing her Master in Marine and Coastal Management in the Westfjords, now she is studying noise pollution and impacts on whales in the Arctic helping to develop bio tourism and bring solutions for whale conservation and protecting of the oceans. She is an active lecturer in international congress on land but she spends long time offshore where she manages to combine her three passions: science, sailing and education at high seas onboard tall ships.