Whale Watching Iceland;
Humpback whale watching Iceland on a luxury yacht from Reykjavik harbour.
It was a little cloudy and overcast as we left Reykjavik harbour on our super yacht, Amelia Rose, today. Weather doesn’t stop the cetaceans surfacing, as they are mammals, and mammals breath air, so the animals must surface to live. However it makes them harder to spot as we can’t see as far or as clearly, the same applies to choppy water.
Our boat was built as a luxury yacht to go across the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, a little chop is nothing to her, but it makes it a little harder for us to spot any fins. Thankfully however we know these waters very well and have been whale spotting for years, so we know where to go for the best chance! So we headed south towards Keflavik and into feeding ground, known to be a rich area. The gulf stream coming north brings with it nutrients to start the food chain and sooner or later lots of small fish will be found by our big beautiful gentle giants.
We had been on the water for the best part of an hour when we saw the blow ahead of us. It was undeniably a humpback, a large baleen whale known for their huge pectoral fins and acrobatic breeching displays. We got closer, whilst respecting the whale’s space and allowed it to approach us. As it was it chose to do so, it seemed quite a young one and, as such, was extremely curious and came right up to us.
Everyone got amazing photos and they could clearly see all it’s marking and tubercles on its rostrum. It was exactly the kind of up close and personal experience everyone dreams of with whales and one lucky ( or unlucky!) customer had some whale blow over them! Despite digestive and respiratory systems of cetaceans being totally separate their breath does smell really bad, like a fishy fart! But sometimes we use this to find them. If we can’t see a whale but can smell it we start searching upwind from us.
This amazing creature spent at least half an hour with us , surfacing, resting, feeding and returning to us, but all too soon we needed to start heading back towards Reykjavik. The wind was blowing from the North and so was bitterly cold that we all headed back inside to the cosy main saloon for a nice cup of hot chocolate… some with a cheeky shot of Baileys or Amaretto in it! Once inside our marine biologist carried on educating everyone on this amazing creature, showing slides of the photos we had taken and talking about the ocean environment as a whole.
It gives us a real sense of joy to share these incredible creatures with our customers, often they are from land locked places, and for some of them this is their first time ever going out on to the sea! An unimaginable thought for people like us who live and breath boats and ocean! We came back into Reykjavik harbour on time, having had an absolutely incredible day whale watching on the yacht, and only wishing we could have spent even longer with that sweet, intelligent and curious creature.
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.