Voices of Skjalfandi

By Loreto Gala on

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.
"Voices of Skjálfandi", the documentary, 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.

SPREAD THE VOICES.

The story behind the documentary.

Three years ago Miquel Such had the opportunity to take a pleasure trip to Iceland. As part of that trip he did a whale watching tour in Húsavík. He was struck by the fact that such a small village, which is not one of the most spectacular and is not on the must-see route in Iceland, could live exclusively on tourism.

He began researching about the activity of whale watching and came across the thesis of Belén García, a marine biologist who was studying the noise pollution produced by the ships in the bay (including whale watching boats) and their effects on them, which communicate with sound frequencies. This noise pollution confuses the whales, even causing them to get lost.

Miquel contacted her to make together a documentary filmmaking. He returned to Iceland to talk to all the people who were related to the subject. Afterwards, he wrote the script for the documentary.

John Grothier, the sound engineer, and Miquel came back to Iceland to make the documentary. They had no funds, so they crossed the country hitchhiking, carrying all the audiovisual material in backpacks and sleeping in tents along the way. Upon arriving in Húsavík, they spent several months camping, getting up early in the morning to work for a few hours cleaning hotel rooms to pay their own costs and spent the rest of the day filming and interviewing. Those were a few hard months, being cold in the tent, sleeping very few hours and charging just enough to eat.

Finally, Miquel moved to Finland to work for a year on the post-production, as the Oulu University of Applied Sciences - where he had studied some time ago - decided to co-produce it by giving him an editing studio during this time.

This project has no production company or professional organization supporting it. Nobody has ever paid Miquel Such's original idea, and all has been created and developed by him with the help of the other members of the team. Now we have created the website, started the search for sponsors, social networks and we are finalizing the details of crowdfunding.

What we want to do with this documentary is to raise awareness about the importance of preserving what we have, which is not allowed for making money, because a tourism system like the Húsavík’s one, is not sustainable.

Tourism, if is not properly managed, can take everything away, as we have already seen in many areas of the Mediterranean coast. It is necessary to find a balance that allows us to conserve and take care of the natural places that we have.

We also want to show the very important work that the researchers and marine biologists working at the Research Center in Húsavík are doing, in many cases without any help whatsoever.

We need funding to cover the costs of the filming including the original soundtrack and to finish shooting interviewing that we still haven’t done.

People who contribute to the crowdfunding will receive cool rewards in return, such as t-shirts with a logo designed exclusively for the project, handmade sweaters made with Icelandic wool, etc. But the greatest reward, no doubt, will be the invaluable little help that each and every one of them will do to protecting the planet.



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