Difficult to see, impossible to say!

Sightings Archive

With a force 7 blowing from the west, steady precipitation and a significant swell, dawn brought very little to excite our passengers this morning. The continuous drizzle persisted throughout the day, only breaking occasionally to give us our first glimpses of the land of ice and fire; we had finally arrived in Icelandic waters.

As we progressed along the south coast of this imposing volcanic island, the Captain tried his best to position the ship along the top edge of an underwater slope in the hope that we may encounter some cetaceans, but unfortunately it was in vain and he was as disappointed as we were.

Still, the seabirds continued to entertain, with the most noteworthy avian sightings being a flock of approximately eighty Fulmars which insisted on following the ship throughout the day, wheeling across the surface of the sea just millimetres above the waves, employing what's known as 'dynamic soaring' as they utilise the updrafts generated from each wave to maintain energy-efficient flight. This particular flock would glide ahead of the ship, drop casually onto the water, allow the Minerva to cruise past, before they took to the air to glide alongside us once more. Despite the drizzle and the wind many passengers were truly enthralled by this show and Emma and I were happily kept busy answering lots of intriguing questions.

Fulmar cruising over the waves

During the afternoon we arrived at the Vestmannaeyjar Islands of Heimaey and Surstsey and listened, enthralled, to Dr Peter Cattermole's informative commentary on the volcanic origins of the islands. He is a lecturer in planetary geology, a volcanologist and fellow Guest Speaker. Although the mist and rain prevented unobstructed views, it seemed to add to the atmosphere, and provided a memorable introduction to the Icelandic geology. Moreover, we also gained tantalising glimpses of the infamous Eyjafjallajokull volcano, although there was no ash column to be seen. Still, we were all challenged to attempt to pronounce its name, and much hilarity ensued as a variety of interpretations were heard throughout the evening...!

Eyjafjallajokull volcano



After a very quiet day on deck, we retired for the night, looking forwards to our excursion day tomorrow on mainland Iceland in the hope that we may see some endemic wildlife and more fascinating geological phenomenon.

Best regards, Mikey

Minerva will be returning to Iceland and visiting St Kilda on MIN110721 (21 July - 05 August 2011).