Feasting on friends: Whales, puffins, and tourism in Iceland

Edward H. Huijbens, N. Einarsson

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


This chapter focuses on the island nation of Iceland (population 333,000) and considers the ways in which charismatic marine fauna such as cetaceans (whales, dolphins, and porpoises) and puffins have become iconic and symbolically significant objects of exchange in tourism marketing on the island. Cetaceans and puffins are used to market wildlife tourism and specific regions and to sell souvenirs, and in the process are personified and made amicable. Thriving alongside this commercial anthropomorphism is their commodity status in Iceland as food and sustenance, as these animals have traditionally been, and still are, eaten by the inhabitants. Paradoxically, the eating of whale and puffin meat has become a tourist attraction in itself, in tandem with the very rapid growth of the tourist industry in the country and the concomitant growth in whale and puffin watching in the most recent years. The discussion in this chapter draws on these contradictory practices of commodification set within a flourishing tourism industry.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTourism Experiences and Animal Consumption
Subtitle of host publicationContested Values, Morality and Ethics
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9781351966290
ISBN (Print)9781138291614
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2018
Externally publishedYes


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