Arctic Foxes

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August 15th 2019
Published: August 15th 2019
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August 10, 2019 –Isafjördur, Iceland– Weather: 43°F/6°C, cloudy all day, rain in am, wind 15 mph, humidity 70°

The port of call today is Isafjördur, Iceland which serves as the regional capital of the Westfjörd region. For centuries this port was a major center of commerce and trading for the fishing industry. While fishing is still a major economic force tourism is a growing feature for the future. The area boasts some of the oldest buildings in Iceland, including four wooden structures from the 18thcentury which avoided destruction from fires.

Today’stour: Arctic Foxes and Avalanches took us first on a drive along the coast of the fiord through the town of Súðavik, where in the 19thcentury the Norwegians established two whaling stations. The town was partially destroyed in the mid 1990’s by an avalanche; more about that later.

Our first stop was at the Arctic Fox Center, a non-profit research station and museum dedicated to the only terrestrial mammal in Iceland, which is thought to predate human inhabitants to the area by 2,000 years. The Center focuses on the biology and natural history of the Arctic Fox as well as the social history of the island in this area. One of the biologists provided us with a ten minute overview of the foxes before turning us loose in their museum to discover more on our own. A real treat was outside in an enclosure were two fox pups who had been rescued from an automobile accident which killed their mother. The pups unfortunately cannot be returned to the wild as they will never learn how to hunt on their own. They will remain at the Center as living examples of the species and are expected to live to possibly 10 -12, twice the normal age of an animal in the wild.

Afterwards we were driven over to a small Lutheran Church for a recital of local Icelandic music. A young lady from the community sang three ballads for us. The church was built entirely of wood without the use of metal, the boards being held together with wooden pegs. The other remarkable feature of the building was that it had started life in another community and was moved to its present location. The structure was taken apart piece-by piece, numbered, transported and then re-assembled like a giant jigsaw puzzle.

Our final stop for the morning was back in Súðavik which today is divided into the Old and the New Town. This division was the result of a devastating avalanche that struck the village in 1995 wiping out much of the community. Temporary buildings were transported in to provide living space while the New Town of 40 to 50 homes was built down the road. The people of Iceland came together as one community and supported this town and rebuilt it in a year, in an avalanche free zone, and protected by an avalanche wall.

We returned to the ship for the remainder of the afternoon ready for our 5:00 pm departure to Akureyri. During the night, (9:11 pm to 10:53 pm) we did a large arch crossing over the Arctic Circle.

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