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Whale watching in Iceland

A recreative and educational activity to do during summer in Iceland

The summer season is great for whale watching, as the wildlife in the bay is at its highest peak. This is the time when the minke whales are at their most abundant, along with the white-beaked dolphins, harbour porpoises and humpback whales.

According to the WWF site, “the minke whale is the smallest of the rorqual whales. Females reach an average length of 8.5m and males grow to about 8m. Like other baleen whales, those found in the northern hemisphere tend to be smaller than those from the southern hemisphere. Minke whales weigh between five to 10 tonnes. The minke is widespread and seasonally abundant in the North Atlantic Ocean. In the winter, they migrate southwards, although it is unclear where their breeding grounds are located.”

White-beaked dolphins “are known to bow ride and ride the waves behind the stern. They are agile swimmers and are frequently observed leaping from the water. White-beaked dolphins, Lagenorhynchus albirostris, are found in North Atlantic waters from the Davis Strait and Cape Cod to the Barents Sea, the Baltic SeaPortugal and possibly TurkeyLagenorhynchus albirostris generally prefers cool waters and migrates north into the Davis Strait during the spring and summer, then back to more southern waters in the autumn and winter.” source: MarineBIO

According to National Geographic “Harbour porpoises are found throughout the temperate coastal waters of the Northern Hemisphere. As their name suggests, they prefer the shallows, less than 500 feet deep, and are commonly seen in harbours and bays. They are also known to frequent inland waters, including rivers, estuaries, and tidal channels. Harbour porpoises survive primarily on fish and are among the smallest of the cetaceans, reaching an average size of about 5 feet and 121 pounds. They can dive deep, more than 655 feet, but usually stay near the surface, coming up about every 25 seconds to breathe with a distinctive puffing noise that resembles a sneeze.”

Humpback whales “are found in every ocean in the world. Their Latin name, Megaptera novaeangliae, means “big wing of New England.” It refers to their giant pectoral fins, which can grow up to 16 feet long, and their appearance off the coast of New England, where European whalers first encountered them. They have dark backs, light bellies, pleats on their throats, and a small hump in front of their dorsal fin, leading to the common name of “humpback.” Source: National Geographic

The best areas to see whales in Iceland is the area near Reykjavik and the area near Akureyri, Húsavík, Hauganes and Hjalteyri in north Iceland.

The most common whale species encountered on our tours are the minke whales, humpback whales, white-beaked dolphins and harbour porpoises. Occasionally we see other species such as killer whales, fin whales, sei whales and long-finned pilot whales, however, they are not as common. The whales are most abundant in summer, giving us a great chance to enjoy and understand them in their natural environment. Each year continues to surprise us however with the variety of whales we see in winter, and as our research shows, more and more whales are staying in the area all year round.

When you book a whale watching tour you get a complete experience. You won’t see only whales but birds as well, because in the bay are usually many species of birds. Also, you will wander around some unique landscapes.


Try a unique experience on a whale watching tour from Reykjavik, Akureyri, Húsavík, Hauganes or Hjalteyri.

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