Whale Watching Iceland; Humpback whale watching on a luxury yacht from Reykjavik harbour.
Awesome! We found a humpback whale as well as so many guillemots, kittiwakes, fulmars, gannets and cormorants and the mountains around us were stunning and snow-capped.
It was a beautiful day here in Reykjavik, sunny but cold, and the small amount of wind didn’t disturb the calm flat seas. Perfect weather to go whale watching on Amelia Rose, our super yacht. The visibility was perfect and we could see perfectly all the way to the horizon, the best conditions to go and find whales in the bay.
Setting out from the old harbour we made our way into the great bay, we wove between the islands first, and along the city shoreline, appreciating Reykjavik from sea. The whole time we had a stunning back drop of snow covered mountains, and birds wheeling and darting around us. The quantity of birds was promising, lots of birds means lots of fish, and where there are lots of fish we get whales and dolphins and porpoises. So we continued further out with high expectations.
When we look for cetaceans we look out for several things, firstly we look for birds, either in quantity or actively diving for fish, whch we had already seen on our way out. Next we look for dorsal fins, everything we love has them, we love whales, dolphins and porpoises, and very rarely, whenever we can we love the sharks we see. It’s very rare to find them this far north and a real honour to see them. The third big indicator of how to spot a cetacean is a blow as they breathe out. As whales are mammals, so they breath air and are warm blooded. Fish don’t make blows!
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.
Today we went out to an area we know to be extremely rich in fish, and a prime hunting ground for hungry whales. We weren’t out there long before whoosh! A blow! It was a minke whale, but it toyed with us, disappearing and reappearing far away. It evidently wasn’t curious about us so we didn’t want to intrude. We carried on our way.
After a while we found a humpback, it was gorgeous, and our first humpback of the year, we hadn’t been out a lot until today as we had such bad weather. But here it was, and it wasn’t fussed by us, and carried on feeding, popping up for a minute to breath and then diving back down for another 10minutes. It remaining relaxed and continuing to feed is extremely important to us, the welfare of our ocean mammals has to be our top priority and we always make sure we are responsible around them, no fast turns or getting too close. By remaining predictable and calm these intelligent, curious giants know to trust us and so chose to approach us.
When it dived we saw the incredible tail flukes, which we also use to help identify individuals as the pattern on them is unique to each whale. Everyone is always so thrilled when it allows them to take that classic photo, especially with such an incredible backdrop. Eventually we found a second whale and it was great to see that the humpbacks are returning for another year feeding in the rich Icelandic waters. We stayed as long as we could, however eventually we had to turn around and head back into Reykjavik harbour as our time was up.
What a totally amazing day on the waters of Faxafloi. It is such a treat to show everyone these amazing, gentle giants and we hope what they learnt will help them to respect our oceans throughout their lives.
People also come here to see the bewitching northern lights, and we take people out to see them, again on our lovely super yacht Amelia Rose. If you book a whale watching tour with us you can get a Northern lights trip for 50% off!
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. 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.