In Memoriam: Dr. Gísli Arnór Víkingsson

August 8, 2022

Gísli Arnór Víkingsson

It is with great sadness that the Mingan Island Cetacean Study lost esteemed long-time collaborator Dr. Gísli Arnór Víkingsson. Gísli was a very highly regarded biologist, in view of his many years and contributions to whale research, and as a leading whale expert in Iceland as Head of Cetacean Research at the Marine and Freshwater Research Institute. He was also a valued long-standing member of the Scientific Committee at the North Atlantic Marine Mammal Commission (NAMMCO).

Gísli, was a dear friend to Richard Sears. In the 1990s, Richard traveled to Iceland and in partnership with Gísli, collected the first blue whale identification photographs and biopsies off western Iceland. It was with Gísli that Richard first observed and biopsied a blue-fin whale hybrid. They spent years researching blue whales and sharing many fond memories in Iceland, and throughout the years that ensued Gísli continued to remain a close collaborator with MICS.

In the community, Gísli’s legacy will be long not forgotten, having contributed much to cetacean studies worldwide, most recently his thesis “Decadal changes in distribution, abundance and feeding ecology of baleen whales in Icelandic and adjacent waters. A consequence of climate change?” closely examines how recent environmental changes have impacted baleen whales. Gísli research and dedication to cetaceans’ will continue to inspire biologist to carry on his work and monitoring of cetacean species.

Mingan Island Cetacean Study wishes to express our sincerest condolences to the Víkingsson family.

“They say the sea is cold, but the sea contains

the hottest blood of all, and the wildest, the most urgent.

All the whales in the wider deeps, hot are they, as they urge

on and on, and dive beneath the icebergs…

…There they blow, there they blow, hot wild white breath out of

   the sea!

And they rock, and they rock, through the sensual ageless ages

on the depths of the seven seas…” (Lawrence, 1932)

Rock on Gísli.