Whales Lofoten


OceanSounds has a small research field station close to Henningsvaer, a small fishing village on the Lofoten Islands in Northern Norway. Within the Arctic Circle, Henningsvaer clings to a group of islands in the Vestfjord. Henningsvaer is a small but active community with its history deep in the traditions of cod fishing, carried through to the present.

Head researcher Heike Vester has been studying whales in the Lofoten area since 2003 and founded OceanSounds in August 2005 in Henningsvaer with the purpose of combining research with education and art.

Since 2003 we have identified over 13 species of marine mammals. Some of them are local species that live here all year round, such as the harbour porpoise or the European otter, or species that come regularly throughout the year, such as the long-finned pilot whale or killer whales. We also have summer guest on their long migration route from the equator to the Arctic, such as minke whales, humpback- and fin whales or male sperm whales.

Our research and education projects range from simple year round monitoring field work (including Photo-ID) to seasonal more specific projects such as social and vocal behaviour of whales and dolphins. Educational programmes include school lectures and workshops.

Our Goals & Projects in Norway:

  1. Protecting Whales of Lofoten & Vesteralen from oil exploration!
    Monitoring Whales & Dolphins in Lofoten, and educating people about the impacts of seismic surveys in Lofoten and Vesteralen and surrounding waters 2009-2017.
  2. Long-term monitoring of all marine mammals in the Vesfjord since 2003, create baseline data to monitor changes in whale abundance and behavior due to climate change and other man-made impacts.
  3. Study of Vocal & Social behavior of long-finned pilot whales and killer whales since 2003/2006 to present the nature of these highly developed and intelligent animals and help stop whaling and captivity and other disturbing human impacts such as boat noise from whale watchers.
  4. Research project on vocal communication of killer whales and long-finned pilot whales in cooperation with Kurt Hammerschmidt, CogEth, German Pirmate Center, Göttingen and Sarah Hallerberg, Marc Timme, Florencia Noruega, MPI for non-linear dynamics and self-organisation, Göttingen, Germany.

    Past projects:

  5. Information center 2006-2014 with exhibitions, lectures and discussions – closed!
  6. Marine wildlife tours, combining research and tourism 2006-2010 – closed!
  7. Art happenings: Whale festival 2011, many different smaller project with artists
  8. Field excursion to Svalbard and the Barents Sea with M/S Esperanza, Greenpeace Norway, summer 2014
  9. Teaching Marine Mammal Biology and supervising Master thesis in cooperation with UiN: Ellyne Hamran, Felipe Matos
  10. Research project on long-finned pilot whales in cooperation with Charlotte Cure and Patrick Miller, SMRU, St. Andrews, UK.