Orca Pod Bonding (Photo: Mark Seth Lender)
The icy tide swells, and herring follow the turbulent waters into Iceland’s western fjords. On a grey day, writer Mark Seth Lender observed as a pod of Orca follows and feasts on the fish.
CURWOOD: As Susan Casey just told us, Orcas have cultures, cultures that prefer certain kinds of foods over others. And when it comes to the Icelandic Orcas, their favorite cuisine includes herring that move in great shoals in and out of the fjords of Iceland. Mark Seth Lender visited the fjords there as the orcas fattened up.
Orca Hunting Herring
© 2015 Mark Seth Lender
All Rights Reserved
Shadow at the speed of dark, Orca drives hard along the hull, wake within our spreading wake. The plimsol line upon his flank, muscular blade of dorsal fin, its ragged trailing edge, the bright white saddle before the eye. Elements, as unique as portraiture. He rolls to reveal that close-lipped Orca smile as he streaks by, a strike of black lightning; his glowing afterimage precedes the recognition of the eye.
Veering away he vanishes into the turbulent water of Grundarfjordur.
Wind ploughs the sea.
The deck rolls.
The bow digs into the furrow on every plundering wave…
To the East, beyond the promontory, Orca are hunting again. Beneath the steep white-coated mountains, between the deep walls at the head of the Kolgrafafjörður. Back, and forth, back and forth, each whale a hand-held scythe cutting and shearing, sounding and rising among the shoals of herring. A delicate threshing of the living grain, they take the fishes one by one.
The tide turns.
The herring run with the tide.
The harvest is ended.
At the narrowing mouth of the fjord a pod of Orca rounds and gathers. Bellies full, eyes crinkled like a joyous noise, their bodies bound together tight as a sailor’s knot, bound as if of single mind.
Unraveling, they drive north for open ocean…
Fingers of snow trace runes upon the fjord, erased as soon as they are born by the whiteout weather tumbling off the mountains.
Everyone that can, has gone. Behind the eyes the after-image fades and only Memory remains, a stiff brush scrubbed against the skin.
Living on Earth wants to hear from you!
P.O. Box 990007
Boston, MA, USA 02199
Donate to Living on Earth!
Living on Earth is an independent media program and relies entirely on contributions from listeners and institutions supporting public service. Please donate now to preserve an independent environmental voice.
Sailors For The Sea: Be the change you want to sea.
Innovating to make the world a better, more sustainable place to live. Listen to the race to 9 billion
The Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment: Committed to protecting and improving the health of the global environment.
Energy Foundation: Serving the public interest by helping to build a strong, clean energy economy.
Contribute to Living on Earth and receive, as our gift to you, an archival print of one of Mark Seth Lender's extraordinary wildlife photographs. Follow the link to see Mark's current collection of photographs.
Buy a signed copy of Mark Seth Lender's book Smeagull the Seagull & support Living on Earth