Whale Watching Iceland;
Whale watching on a luxury yacht from Reykjavik harbour.
It was a bright, beautiful sunny day on Faxa floi as we left Reykjavik harbour on the super yacht Amelia Rose. The sunshine made the fresh snow on the mountains around us glisten, it was like sailing into a perfect painting. Despite the glorious sunshine the wind was bitterly cold, Spring is just around the corner but not quite here yet! The water was quite flat and calm which makes whale spotting a lot easier, in chop the dorsal fin can often be hidden behind swell. Today we could see for over 100km all the way to the Snaefell Peninsular.
From the look out on the top deck we looked out for clues that a whale may be in the area. Cetaceans – whales, dolphins and porpoises are mammals so they breath air, and they are warm blooded. When that warm, damp air is breathed out it makes a cloud of steam called a blow that, depending on the whale, can be several metres high. A blue whale blow can be 10 metres high! But we only have seen them once in the bay this last year. A day to remember of course!
Another clue are sea birds. They often feed on the same kind of fish as the whales and so when we see large numbers congregate or species like the northern gannet diving in we always go and check it out.
Yesterday we saw a beautiful humpback whale so it made sense to go to the same area to begin our search. That area is known to be a great feeding group, the waters are extremely rich and lots of species spawn there. It took us about 45minutes to get out to it, but we look all the way as we also have had whales in the harbour. Twice last year we had a curious humpback come and investigate where we moor the boat!
We found a lot of birds, fulmars, black headed gulls, kittiwakes, and cormorants but there was nothing in the water around them, not even a porpoise! So we continued our trip trying other areas in the hope something was feeding there. We went north east towards Akranes and hvalfjordur, whale fjord, named after all the whales seen there, but still no luck.
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.
Eventually our time ran out and we had to head home, disappointed especially due to braving that ice arctic wind for so long. Never the less it was a beautiful day on a wonderful ship and we had great chats with some fascinating customers. However we really do want to show everyone our incredible wildlife so we gave everyone free returns for 3 years, plenty of time to come out whale spotting again, hopefully with more luck!
Obviously we love showing everyone the incredible creatures that live in our clean, clear, cold waters, and it is right that it is at the top of everyone’s bucket list for Iceland, but the next we can help you out with too. We take the same beautiful yacht out at night time to search for the Aurora Borealis, the northern lights. In fact if you book our Northern Lights Cruise you’ll save 50% off the price if you’ve been whale watching with us. Or vice versa. Have a look at our combo tours!
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.