Basques are believed to have been the first nation to exploit whales for commercial purposes and they monopolized whaling in the middle ages. In the years 1604-1608 they started whaling around the Icelandic Westfjords and in 1615, there were reported to be sixteen Basque whaling ships by Strandir. During this period, pirating was common and Icelanders wary of the dark-skinned seafarers.

In the early summer of 1615, many whaling ships were seen at Strandir, most of them kept going away but at least three of them were left fishing. Those ships perished in a storm on the 21 st  September 1615 in Ytri Naustvík, Reykjarfjörður at Strandir. Their captain's names were Pedro de Aguirre, Stephan de Tellaria and Martin de Villafranca. Icebergs drifted into the fjord and broke the ship of Pedro and Stephan. Martin's ship drifted ashore and broke there. Three crew members perished but some goods were saved. Several small whaling boats were still ashore when the ships perished and 82 or 83 shipwrecked survived. As a result, a scenario began that is unique in Icelandic history with the slaying of 31 of the shipwrecked that connected these two small nations forever.

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