Where would you go Whale Watching? Except at Húsavík, the Whale Capital of Iceland. Filled with eager anticipation since the day I arrived a Reykjavík, I drove South & up along the Eastern Coastline before arriving at Husavik on the 8th day of my road trip.
Looking at Skjálfandi Bay from the main street I could see the picture-perfect fishing harbour of Husavik with the magnificent snow-capped mountains in the background.
I had booked online with North Sailing & it was a Silent Whale Watching Tour which caught my eye as eco-friendly electric boats were used leaving no carbon footprints & giving less disturbance to the whales & marine life.
From the boat we can see pretty much all of Húsavík & their famous landmark, the wooden church of Húsavíkurkirkja built in 1907 on the right.
Húsavík is a small town which is part of Norđurping municipality on the North Coast of Iceland with just over 2200 inhabitants.
Húsavík has become the whale watching centre of Iceland because of the frequency of different species of whales being spotted there. A Humpback Whale can blow up to 3.3m when it surfaces & exhale air explosively through their 2 blowholes located on the top of it’s head.
Another plus is that many of the Whale watching tours are on beautifully renovated Oak Fishing boats & the Húsavík Whale Museum located by the harbour provides a unique insight into the habitat & life of these giants of the high seas.
Adult female Minke Whales though comparatively smaller than Humpback Whales can grow to the length of 8.8m & weigh up to 9,100kg. They are generally larger than the males but it is difficult to distinguish between them at sea.
We spotted 3 Humpback Whales working together, circling the school of fish & having a feast of a good time. The birds swooped in too for the crumbs left behind by the whales.
Humpback Whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) are a species of Baleen Whales & they can grow to the length of 13-17m & weigh between 25-40 tons with a life expectancy of around 95 years Their pectoral fins which are about a 3rd of their body length are very long & bumpy on the posterior edge.
It is interesting how the Arctic Terns keep circling & is a harbinger of the whale that is going to break the water shortly. Humpback Whales feed on krill, plankton & small fish & due to their sheer size can consume up to 1360kg of food every day.
These magnificent mammals behavioural patterns include breaching, pectoral fin slapping, tail slaps & bubble net fishing. Singing some of the longest & most complex songs in the animal kingdom, they are not only masters of melody but are also impressive migratory mammals. The males are especially vocal during the mating season & are well known for their underwater lullabies that could be attempts to serenade potential female partners.
The tail of the whale consists of 2 lobes right & left forming the fluke which has an inner serrated trailing edge ending in pointy tips. There is a V-shaped indentation where the lobes meet called the notch. Flukes move up & down to propel the whale through the water.
Humpback Whales often raise their flukes above the surface when diving thus revealing their unique ‘fingerprints’ which is used in their identification. They spend about half a year in colder high latitude polar waters like Norway when they feed & fatten up. After which they head to warmer shallower tropical waters to socialise, mate & look after their young calves.
We sighted Humpbacks, Minkes, Arctic Terns & a couple of Puffins during this 2-hour Boat trip that included a Cinnamon roll & Hot Chocolate to sweeten the already awesome experience. There were several hilarious moments when everyone on board was scampering from Bow to Stern & Port to Starboard in a bid to catch the best view & photos of the whales as the Captain reported the sightings from the elevated cabin.
The sky darkens & sadly our Whale watching experience has to conclude as we sail quietly back to Húsavík Harbour.
This is definitely one of the highlights of my trip to Iceland. It is my first ever Whale Watching & it was an enriching & exhilarating experience to come so close to these magnificent creatures which I had only encountered in documentaries before. I would do it again in a heartbeat!