The research focus of the Pelagic Division is on the ecology and environmental conditions of the water column from the seafloor and to the surface.  Therefore, our research encompasses a wide range of topics from the largest existing animals to microscopic phytoplankton, in addition to the physics and chemistry of the oceans. Our projects have therefore objectives ranging from long-term monitoring of oceanographic conditions and ecology to applied research related to advice on fisheries management.

Monitoring of environmental conditions in Icelandic waters is one of MFRI´s most important projects. The objective is a monitoring of environmental conditions with repeated observations on hydrography, nutrients, oxygen and ocean acidification on fixed stations around Iceland in four annual research surveys. The focus is on long term trends of all these variables and their potential influence on the biota.

Increasing aquaculture in Iceland has resulted in increasing research effort on currents and other environmental parameters in fjords. This forms the basis of our advice on carrying capacity of fjords and therefore the sustainable use of the coastal area.

Phytoplankton forms the basis of the marine food chain in the ocean. Annual monitoring of phytoplankton is in connection to the hydrographic research surveys, but remote-sensing data is also used for the estimation of primary productivity and its annual progression. Other research activities on phytoplankton includes monitoring of toxic plankton in the coastal zone.

Zooplankton plays a critical role in the marine environment and is a prey for all fish stocks at least at the early stages of their life. Pelagic fish stocks and baleen whales prey almost entirely on zooplankton, though some species feed on other prey for part of the year. Studies on zooplankton aim to improve the biological understanding of different species as well as to determine the spatial and temporal variability in density and species composition. In addition, we work on developing methods to improve use of echosounders to quantify the larger krill species (euphausiids).

Studies on pelagic fish species are extensive in the division. The main emphasis is on estimating stock size and fishing opportunities of capelin, summer-spawning herring, Norwegian-Icelandic spring-spawning herring, blue whiting, mackerel, and lumpfish. The criteria of sustainable use make in addition various research on biology, distribution, migrations, and ecological connectivity among these fish stocks necessary, including the connectivity with the environment, zooplankton and marine mammals. Furthermore, there is an increasing focus on studies on mesopelagic fish (e.g. lanternfish and Mueller’s pearlside) due to possible exploitation of those species.

The focus of the marine mammal’s research is, as with fish stocks, the estimation of stock size of the various mammals found in Icelandic waters, including all whale species and the two seal species that bear their young in Iceland. Various studies on the biology, migrations, and behaviour of marine mammals take also place.

The overarching objective of all research in the Pelagic Division is to give advice to government on sustainable use of marine resources, to study ecological connections of the diverse species and the effects of changing environmental conditions there on. We also study the effects on the ecosystem from various man-made pressures and give government and stakeholders advice.

Name Job Title Email
Agnar Már Sigurðsson Researcher
Agnar Már Sigurðsson

Specialisation: sampling - age verification

Agnes Eydal Biologist

Specialisation: zooplankton

Alice Benoit-Cattin Chemist

Starfssvið: efnamælingar

Andreas Macrander Oceanographer
Andreas Macrander

Starfssvið: haffræði

Anna Heiða Ólafsdóttir Fisheries Biologist
Anna Heiða Ólafsdóttir
Fisheries Biologist

Specialisation: pelagic ecosystem - mackerel - blue whiting - somatic growth - fisheries acoustics


Ástþór Gíslason Marine Biologist
Ástþór Gíslason
Marine Biologist

Specialisation: Zooplankton ecology, seasonal dynamics, overwintering strategies and life history of zooplankton, trophic relationships and feeding of planktivorous fish, long-term changes of marine zooplankton, automatic identification of zooplankton (ZooImage), distribution of zooplankton by acoustics and VPR (Video Plankton Recorder.

Education: PhD frá University of Oslo, 2002
MSc frá University of Oslo, 1987
MA frá University of Oslo, 1978


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Birkir Bárðarson Fisheries Biologist
Birkir Bárðarson
Fisheries Biologist

Specialisation: capelin

Björn Sigurðarson Electronics Engineer
Björn Sigurðarson
Electronics Engineer
Christophe Pampoulie Marine Genomics and Genetics
Christophe Pampoulie
Marine Genomics and Genetics

Specialisation: marine genetics and genomics


Eric dos Santos Biologist
Eric dos Santos

Specialisation: Seal research and general sampling and data collection about Icelandic marine mammals

Education: MSc in biology from the Universtiy of Iceland

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Eygló Ólafsdóttir Field Biologist
Eygló Ólafsdóttir
Field Biologist
Filipa Isabel Pereira Samarra Ecologist
Filipa Isabel Pereira Samarra

Specialisation: Behavioural ecology focusing particularly on killer whale social, foraging and acoustic behaviour, trophic ecology and population biology

Menntun: PhD in Biology, University of St Andrews (UK) 2007-2011 
MSc in Environmental Biology (with Distinction), University of St Andrews (UK) 2004-2005 
BS in Biology, University of the Azores (Portugal) 2000-2004

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Gísli Arnór Víkingsson Marine Biologist
Gísli Arnór Víkingsson
Marine Biologist

Specialisation: Cetacean research, whales, dolphins, porpoises, biology, population assessment, ecology, behaviour

Education: PhD (Baleen whale ecology), University of Tromsø, 2016
MSc in Zoology (Behavioural Ecology), University of Copenhagen, 1985
B.S. in Biology, University of Iceland, 1979


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Guðmundur Óskarsson Head of Division
Guðmundur Óskarsson
Head of Division

Specialisation: herring - pelagic biota

Guðrún Finnbogadóttir Biologist
Guðrún Finnbogadóttir

Specialisation: age verification

Hafsteinn Grétar Guðfinnsson Marine Biologist
Hafsteinn Grétar Guðfinnsson
Marine Biologist

Specialisation: phytoplankton

Hildur Pétursdóttir Marine Ecologist
Hildur Pétursdóttir
Marine Ecologist

Specialisation: zooplankton

Höskuldur Björnsson Engineer
Höskuldur Björnsson

Specialisation: stock assessment (saithe, catfish)

Jacek Sliwinski Technician
James Kennedy Fisheries Biologist
James Kennedy
Fisheries Biologist

Specialisation:: lumpfish - lumpsucker 


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Kristinn Guðmundsson Marine Biologist
Kristinn Guðmundsson
Marine Biologist

Specialisation: marine ecology - phytoplankton/microbes - primary productivity - chlorophyll-a/pigments - ocean colours/satellite data - underway flow-through measurements



Kristinn Guðnason Engineer

Starfssvið: líkanagerð

Kristín Jóhanna Valsdóttir Náttúrufræðingur
Kristín Jóhanna Valsdóttir

Specialisation: phytoplankton

Lísa Anne Libungan Marine Ecologist
Lísa Anne Libungan
Marine Ecologist

Specialisation: zooplankton - herring - ecology



Magnús Danielsen Náttúrufræðingur
Magnús Danielsen

Specialisation: hydrographic measurements

Páll Reynisson Engineer

Starfssvið: bergmálstækni

Ragnhildur Ólafsdóttir Researcher
Ragnhildur Ólafsdóttir

Specialisation: sampling - age verification

Sandra Magdalena Granquist Animal Behaviour Scientist and Ecologist
Sandra Magdalena Granquist
Animal Behaviour Scientist and Ecologist

Specialisation: seals


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Sigurður Þór Jónsson Fisheries Biologist
Sigurður Þór Jónsson
Fisheries Biologist

Specialisation:: capelin

Sigurvin Bjarnason Biologist

Specialisation: Capelin- Biology and acoustics

Education: MSc in Marine biology from the University of Iceland 2016


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Sólrún Sigurgeirsdóttir Biologist
Sólrún Sigurgeirsdóttir

Specialisation: zooplankton

Sólveig Rósa Ólafsdóttir Efnafræðingur
Sólveig Rósa Ólafsdóttir
Svandís Eva Aradóttir Biologist
Svandís Eva Aradóttir

Starfssvið: sýnavinnsla

Sverrir Daníel Halldórsson Biologist
Sverrir Daníel Halldórsson

Specialisation: whales


Teresa Sofia Giesta da Silva Researcher
Teresa Sofia Giesta da Silva

Specialisation: zooplankton

Valerie Chosson Biologist

Specialisation:: genetics - whales - whale photo ID


Warsha Singh Ecologist
Þorvaldur Gunnlaugsson Specialist
Þorvaldur Gunnlaugsson

Specialisation: whales - stock assessment


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