The Flatey islands and the Westfjords

Aug 08, 2017 - National Geographic Orion


It was the first day of the expedition; we had high expectations and a gorgeous morning awaited us. 

The biggest island of the archipelago and still only 1 by 2 km in size. Six people live here all year around, but in the summer the older, traditional wooden fisherman's houses become summer houses for many visitors.

Flatey Island is a perfect spot for Arctic terns to nest. Many chicks are just now learning to fly and being fed by their parents. They will fly every year back and forth between the Arctic and Antarctica.

A cosy little yellow wood house holds the oldest and smallest library in Iceland, established in 1864. Inside we found a replica of the Flatey Book, the largest of the medieval Icelandic manuscripts.

 

Following the only road on the island to the other end, we find a fishing warehouse that has been converted into a quaint coffee house. Here we had an incredible musical performance, with superb singing and beautiful melodies by Sigridur Thorlacius.

 

The local wood houses have many nature decorations from the surrounding shoreline. At this house’s window, some sea urchins are used as a vase.

Following a trail along the farmer’s fence, we ended up at a beach. Here we found an old beached boat. It feels like everywhere we go there is something new to be discovered.

While sailing to our next destination, we got to admire the incredible Icelandic coastline with great cliffs for nesting birds. Millions of birds breed and live on these cliffs in the summer. It’s incredible to see them fly by the ship on their way from finding food underwater and back to their nests.

What an outstanding first day of our voyage!

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About the Author

Madalena Patacho

Naturalist

Madalena was born and raised in Portugal. Her childhood was spent in Belem, surrounded by Portuguese maritime history, monuments and museums, always dreaming about exploring the oceans. Her love for nature has led her to study biology in Évora and later to take a Master’s in management of natural resources at Instituto Superior de Agronomia and Universidade de Évora, getting specialized in ecotourism. For many years she was a naturalist/guide at Oceanário de Lisboa (aquarium) working with a variety of audiences raising awareness on ocean conservation and biodiversity.

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