BioScience Society trip to Iceland

The BioScience Society organised a trip to Iceland over Easter, part funded by the College of Science.

Bioscience Society trip Iceland 2014Student Jessie Davies described the trip: "After months of planning and fund raising, the BioScience Society met at Luton Airport ready for the society’s first trip to Iceland. Arriving three hours later we were met by our tour guide for the duration and driven directly to our first destination, the Blue Lagoon, a turquoise mineral rich geothermal lake set in a vast lava field.

Our base for the trip was a hostel in the centre of Reykjavik and from here we were picked up on day two for the Golden Circle tour.  The tour included a visit to Gullfoss – a spectacular waterfall surrounded by sheets of ice, a tour of Thingvellir National Park and the famous Icelandic geysers.

On day three we were driven across Iceland to the south shore for a day of glacier walking and ice hiking led by an experienced guide.  Armed with ice picks, harnesses, helmets and ice shoes we hiked up the Sólheimajökull Glacier. Located near a volcano, the glacier itself consists of large amounts of volcanic ash mixed in with the ice. Due to global warming, the glacier is reducing in size and it is predicted that in the not so distant future, there will be little left of Sólheimajökull.

Much to the excitement of the marine biologists in our group, day four was spent braving the choppy waters on a whale watching tour. Those of us who were not seasick had great views of Minke whales and porpoises. Back in Reykjavik for the afternoon, we were free to explore the local flea market and taste some Icelandic delicacies such as fermented shark – a horrible idea for those still recovering from the boat, and dried fish – which was surprisingly good with butter!

Day five consisted of a day of volunteer conservation work at Thingvellir National Park – a World Heritage Site. We were all very keen to understand more about the measures the park puts in place and the work undertaken to protect the land.  With only a small number of staff, the park management team is responsible for a huge area of land encompassing lakes, mountains, and large areas of rugged landscape. Part of their environmental policy is historic conservation and our work for the day was to help rid an area of the park of non-native and invasive plant species to preserve the native conditions of this historic site. Due to common geological phenomena, the landscape consists generally of lava rock formations covered in moss and we were keen to experience first hand how the Park protects and encourages the successional development of their site.

The trip was a great success and the BioScience Society would like to thank the College of Science for their financial contribution, which enabled us to carry out conservation work at the National Park; and to the Students’ Union for their contribution, advice and support.  The BioScience Committee hopes this becomes a regular opportunity for Bioscience society members and for many more exciting trips in the future."