We have missed being out on the water all day, and so it was a delight to take our lovely customers out to look for whales and dolphins today. What a christmas treat! We found porpoises and had a large pod of white beaked dolphins playing with the ship and bow riding. As well as that we saw lots of seabirds, including eiders, cormorants, gannets, guillemots, and gulls.
It was quite warm for the end of December today, and dry and clear, perfect weather for whale watching, the snow is forecast for Christmas day so fingers crossed for a white Christmas! A small group of us headed out of Reykjavik harbour on our beautiful super yacht Amelia Rose, mugs of hot chocolate in hand and keen to get out on the water.
Normally there are several boats out on the water to help us find the cetaceans that live in our rich waters, but today there was only us and a private tour on a smaller vessel. Being up high on the top deck gives us a huge advantage, being able to see further and down over the waves. Today we had a small swell coming up from the south, but as the ship was originally built to traverse the world she cut through it easily.
The Gulf Stream coming north keeps Iceland much warmer than other places on the same longitude, and it also bring up lots of nutrients, which keeps our waters rich and full of life. During the summer migratory whales, such as humpback whales come here to feed in great numbers, and some remain all winter, we also get basking sharks in the summer, as well as lots of migratory birds like the Arctic tern and our beloved Atlantic puffin.
The view as we headed our from Reykjavik harbour was stunning, the mountains around us all snow capped, and such good visibility we could see all the way to Keflavik. Passing Whale Fjord we saw lots of cormorants, and lots of guillemots. We use birds to help us find cetaceans, but none of these birds, however glorious were behaving in a way that indicated the presence of a dolphin or a whale.
So we carried on further, and a school of porpoises passes us, riding the swell, it is always a joy to see them as they can be extremely shy, and their presence indicates food in the area. However, much as we love them we were on the hunt for their larger cousins; porpoises are only about human sized.
We look and looked and found birds diving in the correct way, only to find nothing underneath them. We had almost given up when a school of dolphins shot into view, swimming up along side us and then playing with us almost all the way back into Reykjavik. White beaked dolphins are the most common species of dolphin in Faxafloi, and are a joy to see, most especially when they are in this playful mood.
We couldn’t ask for anything more beautiful than dolphins playing in the pinky gold light of the sunset. What a gift for us! We headed home delighted.
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.
Many people come to see the wonderful wildlife here, but they also come to see the incredible northern lights, and we take people out again on our lovely super yacht Amelia Rose. When you book a whale watching tour with us you get 50% off your northern lights tour!
Sea Trips Reykjavik sail everyday from Reykjavík Old Harbour, Iceland. Our yacht Amelia Rose was built as a superyacht in 2003 and as such is extremely comfortable and stable, with three viewing decks, a bar, and pletny of comfortable seating. 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.
What is the difference between baleen 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.