Aug 11

ARKive is supported by a large number of contributing media donors – from scientists and conservationists to professional photographers and filmmakers, including some well known names. Among these is Mark Carwardine, famous for his award winning photography, regular magazine columns, books, TV appearances (with Stephen Fry and Sirocco the kakapo) and of course his conservation work.

Mark has long been a supporter of ARKive, having contributed a huge range of fantastic photographs, and we have recently been fortunate enough to be able to add some of Mark’s incredible new whale images to the site.

Blue whale photo

Among the new images added to ARKive is this breathtaking aerial shot taken by Mark during his recent trip to Iceland, which shows a blue whale lunge feeding at the surface of the water.

Tourist trade maintaining market for whale meat

Some of these images were captured by Mark on a recent trip to Iceland, where he was playing an advisory role in whale-watching operations, having been a keen whale watcher himself for more than 25 years.

Whilst hunting of the Endangered fin whale has been abandoned in Iceland for 2011 due to the insufficient market for its meat, the hunting of minke whales continues and Mark told us “I was very shocked to discover that its whaling industry survives because so many tourists eat whale meat ‘just once to try it’. Tourists keep the whaling industry going.”

Fin whale photo

The endangered fin whales in Iceland’s waters have been granted a temporary reprieve; sadly the minke whale has not been so lucky.

Despite the world moratorium on commercial whaling set up by the International Whaling Commission (IWC) in 1982, in 2006 Iceland announced that it would resume the practice with the Icelandic fisheries ministry claiming that the nation was dependent on living marine resources.

Minke whale photo

The beautiful and majestic minke whale continues to be hunted openly in Iceland, fuelled by the attitude of some tourists who eat whale meat ‘just once to try it’.

Uncertain future for Iceland’s whales

Mark’s story comes amid recent speculation that the US government is considering possible trade and diplomatic sanctions against Iceland for continuing commercial whaling despite the moratorium. Although catch limits for all commercial whaling have been set at zero by the IWC since 1986, this does not apply to Iceland and the recent annual IWC meeting failed to see any firm agreements reached between pro-whaling nations and their opponents.

Fin whale photo

The Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society (WDCS) reports that Iceland has killed 280 fin whales since it resumed commercial whaling in 2006.

Sadly it seems that the future of Iceland’s whales will remain uncertain as long as the demand for whale meat continues.

For more information about Mark and his work, visit his website or follow him on Twitter.

You can also see more of Mark’s incredible whale images on ARKive.

Mark Carwardine will be compèring, alongside TV presenter and photographer Chris Packham, at this year’s WildPhotos – the UK’s largest nature photography symposium, which explores the power of wildlife and environmental photography, and the impact that this iconic imagery can have on audiences.

Taking place on Friday 21 and Saturday 22 October at the Royal Geographical Society, London, WildPhotos draws an outstanding line-up of speakers from the world of wildlife and environmental photography – including winners from the prestigious Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition.

Visit WildPhotos to find out more and to book your place.

Claire Lewis, ARKive Media Researcher