The Whales

The Humpback

The humpback whale arrives in Icelandic waters in the spring after spending the winter in the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean's where they mate and give birth. It is estimated that between 1500 and 1800 individuals spend the summer around Iceland where they feed on krill, plankton, capelin and herring.

The humpback whale can easily be recognized by the extremely long pectoral fins (flippers) that are equal to about one third of their body length, the wart-like growths on their jaws and of course the hump on their back.

The males are usually around 15-17 meters long while the females are 12 - 15 meter long. Max weight of the humpback whales is around 40 tons but normal weight is 25 - 30 tons and they can live up to 80 years.

One may think the humpback whale likes the attention it draws when they roll, jump and play in the water, waving their flippers and tail fin. When the humpback whale dives it almost always lifts the tail fin, showing the black and white pattern that distinguishes the individuals. The whales are also known for their singing. If it is not known if the singing is a way of attracting females or just the whales communicating but it is extraordinary to hear..

Minke Whales

Usually the minke whales is treaded as a single species when in fact is there are at least two different ones. Those are the Antarctic minke and the common minke. Those two species can further more be divided into several separate biological and sup-species. The common minke whale has for example two sub species, the North Atlantic and the North Pacific minke whales. The species in the north and the south never mix and can be known apart by the white stripes the minkes from the north have on each of their flippers while the minke whales of the south have black flippers.

It is believed that there are close to 60 thousand minke whales localized in Icelandic waters.

The minke whale is the second smallest of the baleen whales with normal length for the males about 7 meters and 7.5 for the females. Normal weight for both sexes is 6 to 9 tons.

The minkes can dive for 20 minutes but normally they stay under water for two to five minutes. When they make a deep dive it is usually preceded by a pronounced arching of the back. Minkes are curious animals and often come close to ships to get a better look at it and the funny creatures on board. The minke whale has a very versatile diet ranging from copepods and krill to small fishes like capelin, herring and mackerel and sometime larger fish like cod.