Category: Home of one hundred people – and one million seabirds

@journaledge

Grimsey Island – Home of one hundred people – and one million seabirds.

The Birds of Grimsey Island from Marc Suzdak on Vimeo.

Grimsey Island-  is a green, grassy and particularly agreeable island, probably best known for its proximity to the Arctic Circle, which cuts across the island. Many visitors go there solely to step across that line, south to north. This is the Home of one hundred people – and one million seabirds. The island stands alone far out on the horizon, a blue cliff, surrounded by the wide Arctic Ocean, about 40 km off the north coast of Iceland; it is about 5 square kilometers in area. Life on Grimsey is bright and energetic, and the inhabitants are of a happy disposition, working and playing with equal wholeheartedness. A good swimming pool was opened there in 1989. The inhabitants of the island do their shopping in the village store, Búðin, which is privately owned, and sells a wide variety of goods. There are two guesthouses on the island, one of which is open all year round. The fishermen of Grimsey harvest the rich fishing banks all around the island but often venture in their small motorboats much further north on the Arctic Ocean. An endless ocean which often turns wild, with storms and frost, the waves even 15 m high. Or the polar ice may drift from the north and keep the ocean frozen all around the island. – At other times, such as during summer, the same ocean may be a shining mirror.The islanders live in a small village by the harbor – a prosperous and fertile community with many children. The chorus of seabirds, never stops during the 24 hour long day – there is no night in Grimsey during the summer, not until late July when twilight begins to descend around midnight. – The birds nest in the high cliffs that surround the whole island, except by the harbor.During winter the daylight is very short; most of the sea birds stay far away , out on the open sea. In the village, the families live a modern kind of life today. They are well off, have a good school for their children, the harbor has been improved. A church has been there for eight hundred years. There are two guesthouses as well. A ferry serves the island three times a week. Even an airport has been built  for regular flights. Grimsey is renowned for its cultural activities despite its small population. The islanders were well known for their proficiency in chess. In the 19th century. A wealthy American scholar and chess enthusiast, Mr. Daniel Willard Fiske sailed pass the island and was intrigued by the lifestyle of the inhabitants and their love of chess. It prompted him to donate a chess set to every home and he also donated a considerable amount of money to the community to support their future endeavors. Although the island is on the Arctic Circle, the weather is relatively mild: The average temperature of the coldest month, January, is -1,1°C and the warmest, August, +8,3°C. Grimsey is a community with about 100 inhabitants, who base their livelyhood almost solely on the fisheries but also on limited tourism and agriculture and the bird cliffs, which saved them several times from famine and the scurvy grass growing there from scorbutic disease. Polar bears have often appeared on the island, being brought there by the drifting ice flows from Greenland.