Europe’s biggest whale museum opens in Iceland

A new whale museum featuring real-to-life size models of the 23 species found in Iceland’s waters has opened in Reykjavik.

The Whales of Iceland museum is a new and permanent exhibition in the capital’s harbor area where visitors can get an up close and personal view of some of the world’s most fascinating creatures. Among the whales featured at the museum are orcas, humpbacks, minke and beluga.

The exhibition is likely to raise questions among animal welfare groups and conservationists given that Iceland still hunts and slaughters whales as it continues to ignore in international moratorium introduced in 1986. However, with whale tourism developing into a major source of income and a growing opposition to whaling among Icelanders, many believe the practice could be brought to an end in the not-too-distant future.

Whale and Dolphin Conservation (WDC), a group that campaigns against whaling, has started an initiative promoting Iceland as a whale nation rather than a whaling country, urging visitors to enjoy whale watching instead of eating whales during their stay. At present, a quarter of all tourists go on whale-spotting tours, while more visitors than locals eat whale meat.

The WDC’s Danny Groves said they hope the exhibition will help alter people’s perceptions and counter Iceland’s whaling industry.