The Blue whales are back in the Bay!
Over the last week we have seen several Blue whales in Skjalfandi Bay, and this is of course very exciting and special as Blue whales are a rare sight!
Blue whales are the largest animals on the planet. In fact, they are the largest animals ever lived, even larger then the dinosaurs. Blue whales can reach up to 33 meters in length and weigh 200 tons. That would be the equivalent of 3 school busses in a row with regards to their length and around 19 school busses with regards to their weight!
Their front fins or flippers are 3-4 meters long and their tail can measure 6 – 7 meters from tip to tip. Massive is the word to describe them!
A Blue whale is a mammal and needs to come to surface for air. Their lung capacity is around 5000 liters and when they exhale their blow, or spout as we call it, can reach between 9 to 12 meters in height. Baleen whales like the Blue whales all have 2 blowholes. The Blue whale has a heart the size of a small car and arteries so big that young children can crawl through them.
Blue whales can travel 50km per hour in short bursts but their average swimming speed is 20km and slows down to 5km when feeding.
They belong to the baleen whales, which means that they do not have any teeth in their mouths but long plates we call baleens. These baleens, around 300 of them of about 1 meter long, are used to filter the water predominantly for krill and plankton, but also incidentally consuming small fish, crustaceans and squid.
They can eat between 3500kg – 4000kg of food per day and feed at 100 meter depth on average but closer to the surface at night when the krill moves up in the water column.
When Blue whales calves (young) are born after a 10-12 months gestation period, they are around 8 meters in length and 3000kg in weight and they can drink 400 liter of milk from the mother when nursed and gain 92kg per day in his or her first year of life! The average life span is between 80 – 90 years of age, and live most of their lives alone.
As the whales are traveling through the oceans and into the deep they make many sounds like pulses, groans, and moans. They are considered among the loudest animals on the planet, and in good weather and ocean conditions they can hear each other 1600km away.
Threats to the Blue whales are the occasional attack on the calves by Orcas and they may be wounded, sometimes fatally, after colliding with ocean vessels.
They can also become trapped or entangled in fishing gear.
The noise in the ocean is also increasing, including sonar, and this drowns out the vocalizations produced by whales, making it harder for them to communicate and find each other.
Blue whale hunting was banned in 1966 by the International Whaling Commission. It is estimated that between 10.000 to 25. 000 blue whales swim the world’s oceans, but as they spend most of their lives below the surface and in the deep waters much of the lives of the Blue whale is still a mystery to human kind.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has classified the Blue whale as an endangered species.
Skjalfandi Bay is one the few places in the world to see Blue whales. These magnificent animals who can come here to feed in protected waters. They can also be observed and research can be conducted to learn more about these elusive and mysterious animals.
And we can all help, you can not only be lucky to see a Blue whale in the wild, you can also help to contribute to the protection of this wonderful and beautiful animal.
For more information on research and your help in the protection of marine mammals you are welcome to email with Sabrina Brando on firstname.lastname@example.org
Watching and studying Blue whales in the wild, how amazing is that!
You can find North Sailing on Facebook and Twitter for the latest updates and sightings, and you can share you experiences and photos there too.
More information on all the whales in the bay can be found on our website https://www.northsailing.is/wildlife-of-skjalfandi-bay/whales-of-skjalfandi-bay/
We hope to welcome you soon on board of a North Sailing boat soon!
Wildlife Guide North Sailing
Photos by Sabrina Brando