The Cook, the Hunter, the Whales & their Watchers

The Cook, the Hunter, the Whales & their Watchers

Whale watchers and whale hunters intermingle in the waters off Reykjavík, Iceland. Can they coexist?

Published October 5, 2015
Part of our Ten Best of 2015 series

In the bay off Reykjavík, Iceland, commercial whaling meets commercial whale watching. Whaling vessels—sometimes with dead whales strapped to their sides—and tourist-laden whale-watching ships travel the same waters, occasionally at the same time.

The fin whale meat is exported to Japan, while the minke whale meat supplies the domestic seafood market. But how popular is a traditional dish of minke carpaccio or grilled minke with horseradish and mushrooms? Not very. At least with the locals. Some polls say fewer than five percent of Icelanders eat whale meat. So who is eating it?