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Saltstarumen Sound, Norway

In Moby Dick, Melville told us about the “Norway maelstrom”.

At the Sound. With the Saltstarumen Bridge.

Well, this is it.

For over two-thousand years this amazing place has gripped the northern mind. Located at the base of the 250 million year old Caledonian Fold Belt Mountains you can find the Saltstarumen in Norland, about 30km southeast of the small city of Bodø.

This is the strongest tidal current in the world – and it puts on quite a show.

Kilometers thick glaciers covered Norway for tens of thousands of years.  When the glaciers retreated they left one of the most magnificent landscapes on the planet.  In the “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” an award was even given for the creation of the Norwegian landscape.

That landscape is populated by some amazing features.

At the Saltstarumen, the inner areas of the Skjerstad fjord are about a meter higher than sea level.  When the tide comes

Eiders Ride the Current

up, the ocean attempts to fill the fjord with over 400 million metric tons of seawater.  400 million metric tons slam through a three kilometer long and 150 meter wide strait at 73km/hour. Ten meter wide whirlpools form – some reported at over five meters in depth at the center – and this happens every six hours!

The Swedish combined mala (to grind) and ström (current) for the word malström, a crushing, grinding current known to pull men and boats to the greatest depths then spit them out, mangled and broken.

Edgar Allan Poe brought the word to the English lexicon in his 1841 story “A Descent into the Maelström”. …. “You suppose me a very old man, but I am not….”

Poe took us to the nearby Moskstraumen, another fabulously powerful tidal current in the Lofoten Islands at the small island of Mosken (the Moskstraumen was first mentioned in the Edda poems of the 1200s. Olaus Magnus also mentioned it and it appeared on the Carta Marina). “Twenty-Thousands Leagues Under the Sea” climaxed here.  Neither Verne nor Poe got it right however. Instead of a horrendous circular vortex reaching to the very bottom of the sea, both Moskstraumen and Saltstarumen are a series of rapidly moving cross-currents.

Thanks to these cross-currents, the Saltstarumen is also one of those spots where very large fish can be caught. Saithe, cod, wolf-fish, rose-fish, coalfish and halibut are to be had.

In April of this year, a group of friends and I took our fishing gear, camping gear and a bottle of Czech slivovice out for a fishing trip to the Saltstarumen.  It was raining, but not terribly cold.  We rapidly landed a dozen saithe (photos below). Later came a very large cod.  We could have gone on but we couldn’t eat any more than that.  The fishing trip rapidly turned into an eating trip.  The sky drizzled down. The vortices appeared.

When the current turns, everything goes calm. For about 6 hours, one would never expect the grinding tide would even exist.

Then it is back.


If you visit:

–   Frequent local bus service will take you from the Bodø town center the 33km  along highway Rv17 to Saltstarumen.  Bodø Transportation Information:

For More Information, Contact

Saltstarumen Adventure Center

Phone: +47 7556 0655
Fax: +47 7556 0656

Arriving and Ready to Fish
Fishing for Saith at the Saltstarumen
Fishing for Saithe at the Saltstarumen


Fishing for Saithe at the Saltstarumen
Dinner. Saithe at the Saltstarumen
Readying the Saithe for Cooking
Saithe on the fire
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