It’s almost December but we are still seeing humpback whales on our whale watching tours, are we going to have multiple humpback whales in Faxafloi all winter?
Humpback whales usually migrate from the Icelandic waters at the end of the Autumn, heading off to the tropical waters of the Gulf of Mexico to breed and, 11 months later, give birth. Occasionally a humpback will spend all winter here, in 2020 one stayed in the fjord near Husavik, and two years before we had one amongst the islands just off the coast of Reykjavik.
This year we have a group of 3 or 4 humpbacks that are still hanging out in the middle of Faxafloi, the great bay between the Snæfellsnes and Reykjanes peninsulas. This area is known as one of the best winter whale watching spots in Iceland, but it is often minke whales that we see. Seeing humpbacks in winter is less common. We know we are seeing the same ones day after day as it is possible to identify individual humpbacks by looking at the markings on their tail flukes.
It’s possible that they are here simply because there is still a huge amount of food for them, we’ve had a bumper year for small fish, such as capelin which is what they eat. It is interesting that we have been seeing the humpbacks together a lot, as whilst humpback whales have lifelong friendships, baleen whales don’t have the same family group – pod – system as toothed whales do.
We will keep an eye on these incredible creatures, and hope that they stay all winter!
It really is the most magical sight, from the first moment when we see their huge puffs of breath against the frigid air, with the snow-capped mountains as our backdrop, to when they arch their backs in a massive dive, showing off their tail flukes.
Seeing whales and northern lights are rightly on the top of people’s Icelandic bucket lists, and 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. Sea Trips Reykjavik sail daily from Reykjavík Old Harbor, Iceland.
Learn more about how to spot whales here.