Lofoten Islands

May 09, 2018 - National Geographic Explorer

Today we visited two of the Lofoten Islands, Værøya and Reine. In the morning we stopped and anchored at Værøya at the southern end of the island chain. We had opportunities for a very strenuous climb up a steep trail once used by the residents of the small village which is now only used as summer homes by the locals. They would once have climbed to the top in search of puffins, but we chose it for the view. Others took a more leisurely walk along an old wagon road to the more populated end of the island. Additionally, we took Zodiac cruises around the shore of the large bay where we had anchored in search of wildlife, which consisted mainly of seabirds including kittiwakes and puffins as well as black guillemots and shags. Several gray seals inspected us as we cruised past.

After lunch we made a visit to the lovely town on Reine where a very active cod fishery is based. We walked ashore past hjells, or cod drying racks, where thousands of dried cod, called stockfish were being preserved for later export, mainly to Mediterranean countries which relish the delicacy as bacalao, especially during the holidays. There were also fish heads drying which are also considered a favorite in Europe and Nigeria. In the small town we were able to see some restored small boats, called Nordland boats, which were the original craft that fishermen from Sweden, in the Skagerrak and Kattegat regions of southwestern Sweden used to develop this cod fishery in the late ninth century, sailing all the way north to Lofoten in the winter to fish—in the dark!

After a very interesting afternoon at Reine, we cruised north once more and after dinner entered the tiny fjord called Trollfjord which is a mandatory stop on our voyages up the Norwegian coast. We entered the fjord with little room to spare on either side of the ship and turned around at the head where some young lady was lucky enough to pluck a small twig of leaves from one of the trees growing out of the rock wall as the captain maneuvered the ship close enough for her to reach ashore.

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About the Author

Jim Kelley

Expedition Leader

A native of California, Jim has been going to sea for most of his life. Jim grew up by the ocean in Southern California, did his undergraduate work in geology at Pomona College, and received his Ph.D. in geology from the University of Wyoming. In 1966 he joined the faculty of the Department of Oceanography at the University of Washington, with joint appointments in the Department of Geosciences and the Department of Biomathematics. In 1970-71 he was Fulbright Professor at the University of Athens and Senior Research Scientist at the Democritos Greek Atomic Energy Commission.

About the Videographer

Steve Ewing

Video Chronicler

Born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, Steve fell in love with the beauty of the natural world at an early age. In addition to nature, his other main passion was telling stories though the medium of television and radio. Steve studied broadcast journalism at the University of Oregon. There, he learned how to shoot, edit, and report compelling stories using digital video.

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