Monday, September 5, 2011

Whale Watching in Reykjavik

Whaling has a long history in the coastal waters around Iceland. After centuries of over exploitation, whaling was halted as recently as 1989. Whale watching in Iceland is still a relatively new tourist attraction with trips beginning in 1995.

I headed out of the Reykjavik Old Habour on the  NÚMI, a traditional Icelandic oak fishing boat that has been modified for whale watching and sea angling. Since there is no glass enclosing you on the boat, blankets are provided to bundle up in. I was lucky to have a calm, sunny day.

There are few places in the world where you can find as many species of whales so close to shore as in Iceland. These include blue, fin, humpback, minke, and even orcas. On my own whale watching trip, I was lucky to see minke whales and a pod of white-beaked dolphins.

Minke whales are the smallest baleen whales and also the most abundant. White-beaked dolphins are attracted to boats and often bow ride. Most whale watching boats have a 100% success rate of seeing both minke whales and white-beak dolphins.

On the way back, the NÚMI's engineer, who is an excellent cook, prepared fish soup to warm up with while we sailed back. There are stunning views of the mountains and harbor.