This Sea Duck Has the World’s Most Expensive Feathers

Every summer, around 400 hunters scour a small, remote island in Iceland’s Breizafjörzur Bay in search of an unusual treasure – the world’s most expensive feathers. The hunt has been held almost every year for over a thousand years. People have known that eiderdown — the feathers of the eider polar duck — is one of the warmest natural fibers on the planet. Today, they're used to make the best duvets and quilts money can buy. A pound of eiderdown sells for thousands of dollars, as the feathers are only used to make luxury products. Eider ducks shed the precious down from their breast and use it to line their nests to insulate them during hatching. It’s these nests that the hunters are after during their annual eiderdown hunt. Not only is eiderdown both light and highly insulating, it’s also extremely scarce, with annual global yield at less than four tons, three-quarters of which comes from Iceland. Eiderdown hunters have to find about 30 duck nests to gather one pound of down. The down also has to pass rigorous quality checks in order to make the cut, which also impacts the price. An eiderdown duvet containing 1.76 pounds of feathers costs an average of $5,000.