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Everything You Need to Know About Blue Whales in Iceland

|April 27, 2023
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Hoping to catch a glimpse of the biggest animal on Earth? Sightings of blue whales in Iceland are rare, but this information can help increase your chances.


The waters surrounding Iceland are a natural playground for whales, as there are more than 20 different species that call it home. It's no wonder that so many visitors jump onto boat tours each year to catch a glimpse of these magnificent creatures. Among the many whale species in the area, the whale that stands out as a mystery is the blue whale.

These gentle giants are the largest animals in the world, they can reach lengths of up to 100 feet and weigh up to an impressive 200 tons. Despite their massive size, they feed primarily on krill, which are small shrimp-like creatures. Their flippers are long, narrow, and white on the underside, and their flukes can have a span of up to a staggering 8 meters. Blue whales are also known for their unique and haunting vocalizations, which can be heard over vast distances in the ocean. Witnessing these majestic creatures in their natural habitat is an unforgettable experience for those lucky enough to see them.

Blue whale under the water

Where is the Best Place to See Blue Whales in Iceland?

There are only a few places on the planet to see blue whales, and Iceland is one of them. The best place to see them in Iceland is in the north. Although it is possible to see some species of whales from the shore, blue whales tend to be found in deeper water, sometimes an hour from shore. This makes going on a whale watching boat tour the best option. Here are some areas with the best chance to see a blue whale.

Húsavík

This charming town on the north coast of Iceland is known as the whale capital of Iceland. It is one of the most popular places to go whale watching in Iceland and is famous for its abundance of marine life, including blue whales. The whales are often spotted in Skjálfandi Bay, which is located just off the coast of Húsavík. The town also has a whale museum which is home to a blue whale skeleton, so if you aren’t lucky enough to see one on a tour, you can still get a feel for their size.

Blue whale breaching the water's surface

Eyjafjörður

This fjord is located in northern Iceland and is another popular place for whale watching. Blue whales are often spotted in the deeper waters, particularly around the mouth of the fjord. Whale-watching tours depart from the town of Dalvik, which is located in the heart of the Fjord.

When is the Best Time to See Blue Whales in Iceland?

The best time to see blue whales is in the summer when the Krill population is at its highest. The earliest sighting of them is in mid-June, with the best chance to see them in late June. However, they don't stick around for long. Scientists have tried to track where they go after the summer, but trackers haven't made it past Iceland's waters. 

Even if your timing is perfect, seeing a blue whale is a rare sight due to their breathing and hunting habits. As with most Icelandic wildlife, it all comes down to luck as to whether you see one on your day trip or not. 

An underwater shot of a blue whale at the water's surface

About Blue Whales in Iceland

The blue whale is an absolute marvel of nature. Its long and streamlined body is a fascination for many. With 1,000 blue whales estimated to live in the North Atlantic, these creatures have been spotted off the coast of Iceland.

The cold and nutrient-rich waters surrounding Iceland are abundant with the blue whale's food source: krill. It makes Iceland a vital feeding ground for them during the summer months. The blue whale, despite their large size, is a wary and shy species; they often travel alone or in a small pod. They can be hard to spot, even when you are in the right spot, as they only surface when they need to breathe, which is once every twenty minutes or so.

To find out more about the whales of Iceland, read our detailed guides on Orcas and Humpbacks.

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