The Whales

There are 23 species of whales around Iceland

There are 23 species of whales around Iceland, and many of them are in the Faxaflói Bay outside of Reykjavík. They are from about 1.5 meters up to 15 meters long and when you see these gentle giants up close you really feel alive. The most common whale and dolphin species in Faxa Bay are Minke whales, humpback whales, dolphins, porpoises and in the beginning of summer blue whales and fin whales could be seen.

Blue Whale

Length: 20 – 33 meters

Weight: 110 – 190 tons

Life span: about 90 years

Diet: krill and plankton

Fun facts: They are the biggest animals ever on earth. A blue whale’s heart is big as a car, its flukes as broad as a small aeroplane and some of the blood vessels so big that you can swim through them.

Fin Whale

Length: 20 – 25 meters

Weight: 50 – 80 tons

Life span: about 90 years

Diet: krill, plankton and small fish

Fun facts: The colour of the lower jaw is what makes fin whales unique. It is asymmetrical with the right side yellow-white and the left side dark gray or black.

Harbour Porpoise

Length: 1,5 – 2 meters

Weight: 55 – 70 kilos

Life span: about 30 years

Diet: various small schooling fish

Fun facts: They are among the smallest of all whale species, reaching a size like an average human being.

Humpback Whale

Length: 13 – 17 meters

Weight: 25 – 40 tons

Life span: about 95 years

Diet: krill, plankton and small fish

Fun facts: They most often raise their flukes above the surface when diving, revealing their unique “fingerprints”. This black and white pattern underneath their flukes can be used for identification.

Long-Finned Pilot Whale

Length: 4 – 8 meters

Weight: 2 – 5 tons

Life span: about 40 years

Diet: mainly squid and various fish

Fun facts: They are sometimes called “pothead whales” because the shape of their head reminded early whalers of black cooking pots.

Minke Whale

Length: 7 – 10 meters

Weight: 8 – 10 tons

Life span: about 50 years

Diet: krill, plankton and small fish

Fun facts: They are the most common whales around Iceland. There are two types of minke whales; the northern kind (which we see) has a white band on each flipper, while the southern type does not.

Orca (Killer Whale)

Length: 6 – 9 meters

Weight: 3 – 9 tons

Life span: ? ~ 50 years /? ~ 60 – 70 years

Diet: mainly herring

Fun facts: Remember “Free Willy” ? That must be the world’s most famous Orca. His real name was Keiko and he was born in Icelandic waters around 1978.

Northern Bottlenose Whale

Length: 7 – 9 meters

Weight: 6 – 8 tons

Life span: about 50 years

Diet: various fish

Fun facts: The males have only two teeth at the front of the lower jaw while females have no teeth at all – in difference to most other toothed whales which can have up to hundreds of teeth each.

Sei Whale

Length: 15- 20 meters

Weight: 20 – 30 tons

Life span: about 80 years

Diet: krill, plankton and small fish

Fun facts: Their diving technique is different from most other whales as they do not hump their backs or show their flukes while diving, they simply sink below the surface.

Sperm Whale

Length: 12 -18 meters

Weight: 30 – 50 tons

Life span: about 70 years

Diet: squid and various fish

Fun facts: They can dive as deep as 3000 meters and stay submerged more than two hours. Furthermore, their blow points forward and to the left at a 45° angle.

White-beaked dolphin

Length: 2,5 – 3 meters

Weight: 180 – 350 kilos

Life span: about 25 years

Diet: various small fish, e.g. mackerel

Fun facts: They are very playful little whales, social and acrobatic. It often happens that they approach our boats due to curiosity; swim with us, bow ride and breach.