Incredible! We found a blue whale! 17-jun-2019

most awesome day as a whale guide viewing a blue whale

The most incredible whale watching trip today – we found blue whales in Reykjavik harbor, and one of them looked us in the eye!

by Lucky Byfleet

I think we will remember this day for always; we had not one but two blue whales playing around our yacht, having already seen minke whales and porpoises!  Today we also saw porpoises, a minke whale, black-backed gulls, eiders, and kittiwakes. To make it even more special today is Iceland’s Independence day – when we broke away from Denmark!

blue whale swimming near a boat a turning on its side at the surface to look at the people taking photographs
Blue whale playing right under our bow

The trip started out beautifully, with only a little wind, picking up a little from the morning, but blue skies and calm seas. We left Reykjavik harbor on our luxury yacht, Amelia Rose, and shortly after we found harbor porpoises. These sweet creatures are quite shy, and only about the size of a human though, we wanted to find something much bigger. So we carried on all the way out to the area we most often find whales.

Out in the feeding grounds we came across a couple of beautiful minke whales, which are always a delight, we could see a blow from a bigger whale in the distance too, and headed off towards it.

At first, we thought it might be a huge humpback, as that is the most common large species of whale in Faxafloi, but as we got closer we could see just how massive the blow was, a blue whale blow can reach 10m straight up, whereas a humpback blow is a lot bushier and nowhere near as tall. Then the whale rolled on its back flapping its pectoral fins above the surface of the water. They were the same size as a humpback’s but totally smooth. It was a blue whale, playing around, totally at ease.

It transpired there were not one but two whales there, and they took a massive interest in our yacht, coming right under the bow and raising its eye above the water to have a really good look at us. These intelligent, inquisitive creatures were so curious. It was an absolutely incredible sight! We stayed and enjoyed their frolicking for as long as we could before heading back in towards shore. 

They haven’t been seen this far in the harbour for over a decade. Normally they live 30miles off the coast, but these amazing creatures had come only a few kilometres or so off the shore.

Back of a minke whale in the ocean, very smooth - the sun is reflecting off it
a minke, the type of whale we saw early on in the trip

Seeing a whale-like this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, it was incredible to even see its blow, being almost as tall as the ship. The largest animal to have ever lived just hanging around our boat, which was about the same size as it! It is very hard for your brain to really fathom just how huge it was.

Eventually, we head back into the harbor, having had a truly incredible day that would stick with us forever. It was a delight to show this amazing creature to our lovely customers. 

Coming to Iceland people often have to see the whales and the northern lights at the very top of their bucket lists, and rightly so! We love showing everyone both. If you have booked onto a whale watching tour with us you can come out with us to see the aurora for half price, but still aboard the luxury superyacht Amelia Rose.

For more information on how we search for whales and dolphins, and learn how to be a pro-cetacean spotter yourself have a look at our guide here.

Sea Trips Reykjavik sail daily from Reykjavík Old Harbour, Iceland. Our yacht, Amelia Rose was built as a superyacht in 2003 and as such is extremely comfortable and stable. However the seas often change here, and people are affected differently by the movement of the oceans. As such we have seasickness tablets available for free at the bar. We also have warm blankets and ponchos around the yacht for your comfort, though the inside of the ship is extremely warm and snug.

For more information on our boats, our trips, and any accessibility questions please email us at seatrips@seatrips.is and be sure to look through our FAQs.

harbour porpoise playing in the ocean
harbour porpoises that we saw early on in the trip

What is the difference between baleen whales ( a blue whale is a baleen whale ) and toothed whales?

We see both toothed and baleen whales here in Reykjavik harbour, Iceland. Did you know that dolphins and porpoises are also part of the same family? www.uk.whales.org is a brilliant website that goes into a lot more detail however this is the basic description!

They write that;

“Baleen whales have baleen plates, or sheets, which sieve prey from seawater. Toothed whales have teeth and they actively hunt fish, squid and other sea creatures. Dolphins and porpoises all have teeth and rather confusingly are known as ‘toothed whales’ too!

Another obvious difference between baleen and toothed whales is the number of blowholes on top of their head; baleen whales have two whereas toothed whales have one. There are only 14 baleen whale species and they are generally larger than the 76 species of toothed whales – except for the mighty sperm whale, the largest toothed whale.”

If you are interested in learning more we recommend these websites, https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/mammals/group/whale-facts/ and https://www.worldwildlife.org/species/whale They have a lot of extra learning materials about cetaceans all over the world.

fin whale in reykjavik snowy mountains and a lighthouse in the background, and the blow of a fin whale closer in.

What animals were seen on this day;

Harbour porpoises, minke whales, blue whales, atlantic puffins, Northern gannets, Arctic terns, Manx Shearwater, Razorbill, Northern Fulmar, Arctic Skua, Common Guillemot, Black-legged kittiwake, Great Black-Backed gull, Eider Duck, European Shag, Black-headed Gull


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