Living on Sharks and the Sea

Today, I ate uncooked shark meat. Can you believe it?

SharkMeatAllow me to explain from the beginning. Despite the rain today, our group spent much of the day exploring the coasts of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula. The views were beautiful! There were many cliffs, so we had to be careful not to slip over the edge.

Since Iceland is an island, many of the people here live off the resources of the sea. Being a fisherman seems like a good choice of professions here!

See the little guy there? He's fly fishing!

See the little guy there? He’s fly fishing!

The seafood is very popular here. I’ve only been here two days, but I’ve already had my fair share of fish!

Today we dined in a tiny restaurant overlooking the crashing waves. Our group barely fit inside!

Tiny Restaurant

The sea is very powerful here! It doesn’t look too easy to swim in there.


We even saw some remains from shipwrecks.Shipwreck

My favorite stop was a small family farm at the end of a little road, otherwise known at the Bjarnarhofn Shark Museum! SharkSign

At this little farm, a man and his father (and HIS father before that) make their living off of shark meat.They produce a traditional Icelandic delicacy called Hákari, which we got to try. From the outside, the place looks like a regular farm, but then you walk into this old barn that is converted into a museum, packed with family relics.

It’s not a traditional museum, but everything there is really personal to the family, which was really neat. It’s kind of like walking into someone’s attic and exploring all their old family heirlooms. Here’s a little video I took to try to give you a sense of what it was like! They even had their grandfather’s old boat in there!

The owner taught us all about how they make the shark meat. Basically, nowadays, they buy sharks from fishermen who accidentally caught them in their nets. Museum1They slice up the by-catch into small chunks, and then they put it into these wooden boxes with slats in the sides, so the juice can ooze out. When it is fresh, it is actually toxic to people, but it turns out that if you leave it like this for a while, it ferments and somehow turns into healthy meat. Then, they take this uncooked meat, dry it out to get it to be the right texture, and then freeze it when it’s ready. On the outside, it looks all brown and gross, but then when you cut it open, the meat inside looks like a fresh white fish. And then you can eat it! To me, it tasted sort of… fishy… but it was ok. I didn’t split it out or anything. And apparently, it’s actually really healthy once treated in this way.


We learned all sorts of other things about sharks too. For example, did you know that they have several rows of teeth, and the top row falls out after about 3-4 weeks, making way for the new row?

Also, we got to see a bunch of items that these guys found inside of the shark stomachs – a polar bear skin, a small whale tail, and much more.

SharkStomachOverall, I was very impressed by this innovative family. If you lived in Iceland, what kind of business do you think you’d want to start? Be creative — how could you use the resources of the sea to your advantage and make some good money?

Categories: Iceland

24 replies »

  1. The museum looked scary because sharks freak me out. I never knew fresh shark meat was poisonous. Do most people who live in Iceland have jobs based off of the sea?

  2. This is cool!
    I’m surprised that Iceland has shipwrecks, although I have a feeling I shouldn’t be (it’s an island in a strong ocean after all). But I’d like to go beachcombing in Iceland!
    The Bjarnarhofn Shark Museum is cool too! I never knew that you could find a piece of a polar bear’s skin in a shark’s stomach. The fact about the shark’s teeth was interesting too! I feel kind of bad for the sharks that died though. Also, are the stuffed birds in the video real or fake?
    If I lived in Iceland, I would most likely start a fishing business… Or maybe bone whiddling…

  3. I have always loved sharks and I think they are really cool. One of the things that I think is cool is that they have unlimited rows of teeth like you said. I did already know this from watching Shark Week on Discovery channel. If I was in Iceland I would try the shark meat just so I could say I had tried it but the idea that the outside turns brown is a little weird. If I lived here I would definitely be a fisherman because I love to fish and have never been able to fish anywhere but the US.

  4. I found this blog very interesting I enjoyed reading about the livelihood in Iceland and about the sharks!

  5. I for one would never eat shark meat, cooked or raw. I don’t think Iceland would be good for because I am allergic to shellfish and the oils on cooked shellfish. It must be hard to live there if you do not like fish. That would be terrible. Enjoy your seafood explorations in Iceland!

  6. I think if I were to live in Iceland, I would become a fisherman. I would do this because I have always been interested in the ocean and think it could make me the most money

  7. I think it is strange that the people found a polar bear skin and a small whale tail in the shark’s stomach. The museum must have been pretty cool. I wonder how many things are in the museum.

    If I lived in Iceland I would be a farmer because of all the open land.

  8. It is very cool that people found a polar bear skin, a whale tail, and a starfish from inside 1 or more sharks. Di you like eating all that seafood for 2 days? I would have loved seeing the shipwrecks. Do they still get shipwrecks their or is it safer because they know a ship or two have had a shipwreck their?

  9. I would,start a healthy seafood bar. I would try to add different,spices to make the seafood taste better. I would like my seafood bar to be close to the ocean. I would display things the fisherman found in the ocean because that is interesting to look at.

  10. I think it is very cool that sharks have many layers of Teeth,also I am surprised that they grow in from 3-4 weeks because my teeth don’t grow in that fast,in addition I thought it was very cool that sharks are the only one that can do that

  11. I think it was very cool that if you eat shark meat right away it’s toxic.I learned that you need to cut up the by-catch and then put it into a wooden box with holes in the sides to make the juice come out. Then leave it like that for a while , so it can become healthy meat and then dry it out to get the right texture then freeze it and finally when you take the brown stuff off you can eat it. Whoo! Sounds like a lot of work to me.

    That story reminds me of when my Nana’s neighbor caught a shark when he was deep sea fishing and I wondered if he could eat it and that totally answered my question.What is by-catch?I looked it up in the dictionary, and I couldn’t find it.

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