Code of conduct for seal watching


The summer is here in Northwestern Iceland and visitors are increasing in our area and around seal colonies. We remind you of being careful around the seals and make sure not to disturb them.

It´s good to keep the following in mind:

Be mindful: The seals are in their natural habitat and we are observers.

Protect the seals from disturbance during seal watching:

  • Move gently, keep your voice down- never throw objects
  • Keep respectful distance (100m)- never touch
  • Never approach a sole pup- the female is nearby
  • Move away if seals show signs of disturbance- head-up/vigilance or fleeing
  • Drones scare the seals. No drones, please.

The Great Seal Count in Iceland 2021

Selatalningin mikla 2021

Sunday, July 25 at 13.00, the Great Seal Count will be held by the Icelandic Seal Center in Hvammstangi. We encourage everyone to participate, whether you are a local, landowner, or tourist on your trip around the country. Participation gives people the opportunity to see harbor seals in their natural environment.

The aim of the seal count is to support further research, by gaining knowledge of the number of seals in these areas and continuing to develop sustainable tourism in wildlife viewing.

The counting consists of counting seals in Vatnsnes and Heggstaðanes, but the area will be divided into many different areas (about 2-7km long) and everyone should find a distance that suits them. The large seal count is a fun experience and it is well worth coming and participating in the research work of the center.

After the count, coffee breaks will be available for participants.

New Book Chapter from DRT

A new book chapter, from Jessica Aquino and Georgette Leah Burns :

Creative tourism destinations offer the potential to enhance the local economy and community livelihoods by producing authentic and creative products for consumption. Over the past few decades the residents of Húnaþing vestra proactively built a creative tourism product as a strategy for enhancing resilience in their small rural community in northwest Iceland. Using a case study analysis approach, coupled with data collected from observations and interviews, we explore creative tourism in Húnaþing vestra, describing the concept behind Selasetur Íslands (the Icelandic Seal Center) and how it continues to play an integral part in maintaining a novel approach to supporting sustainable cultural development.

See the text here:
Aquino, J. F., & Burns, G. L. (2021). Creative Tourism: The Path to a Resilient Rural Icelandic Community. In Creative Tourism in Smaller Communities: Place, Culture, and Local Representation. Calgary: University of Calgary Press. Retrieved from

Work with the seal research department this summer


Are you studying nature science at the university level in Iceland and are interested in seal research?

In cooperation with the Seal research department at the Icelandic seal center, the marine and freshwater institute is looking for an assistant to work with us in Hvammstangi, NW Iceland this summer. The work will include research and analysis of seal behavior and abundance in important haul-out sites in Northwest Iceland. The assistant will take part in fieldwork and analysis under the supervision of a specialist from the institute. The project aims to increase our knowledge of seal behavior in the haul-out and what factors are affecting the seals, such as anthropogenic disturbance, weather factors, etc. Such knowledge is important for example when developing population models and for the management of the seal populations in Iceland. The project leader is Sandra M. Granquist, whom you are welcome to contact if you have questions (
The position is taking place from 1 June- 15 August and the application deadline is 22 May.

More information, as well as the application form, can be found here:

New paper published in the Department of Rural Tourism

A new paper was recently published by Jessica Aquino, Georgette Leah Burns, and Sandra M. Granquist.

The article, A responsible framework for managing wildlife watching tourism: The case of seal watching in Iceland, can be downloaded here for free for the next 50 days. This conceptual paper develops a framework that addresses the need to manage human-wildlife interactions in Arctic settings to ensure positive outcomes for wildlife, local people, and visitors. We argue that managers tasked with meeting these needs should do so in a cultural context where ethical frameworks are guided by sustainable and responsible management practices, however, these strategies are often absent in the literature. By reviewing current literature that investigates theoretical and practical understandings of wildlife watching management we build a methodological foundation for approaching wildlife watching management and identify the need for future management actions that include participation of multiple stakeholder groups. Taking a systems thinking approach we build a case for implementation of our Ethical Management Framework (EMF). Application of the framework is exemplified through a case study of seal watching management in Iceland. Our new framework can be applied in a wider range of wildlife tourism settings worldwide.