Whales of Skjálfandi Bay

From the beginning of whale watching from Húsavík the minke whale has been the most common whale in Skjálfandi Bay. Lately the humpback whale has also been a frequent visitor and the chances to see the white-beaked dolphin and the harbour porpoise are fairly high in the bay as well. In the last years the enormous blue whale has been seen in the bay, but usually it stays there early summer before traveling further north. Occasionally more rare species wander into the bay, for example the fin whale, the orca, the northern bottlenose whale and the sei whale.

Below is a list of whales that have been spotted in Skjálfandi Bay throughout the years along with further information on each species.


Humpback Whale

The humpback whale, 11-19 m in length, is a baleen whale, like the blue, fin, sei and minke whale. The humpback whale primarily feeds on plankton, krill, but also small fish, such as capelin and is easily identified by its enormously long flippers, which can be up to 5 or 6 m in length.

Minke Whale

The minke whale is the second smallest of the baleen whales, reaching 8-10 metres in length, weighing up to 10 tons. The males, smaller than females, are about 7-8 metres in length

Blue Whale

The blue whale is the largest animal ever to live on Earth. The longest measured blue whale was 33.5 m long, and the heaviest weighed almost 200 tons.

Killer Whale (Orca)

The killer whale, also known as orca, is a member of the dolphin family and belongs to the toothed whales. It is easily identified by the tall dorsal fin, which can be up to 1,8 m tall, and the dominant black and white colour.

Northern bottlenose Whale

The northern bottlenose whale, belonging to the toothed whales, is about 7-10 m in lenght. The bottlenose whale is brownish in colour and is rarely seen in inlets and bays, preferring deeper waters.

Pilot Whale

The long-finned pilot whale, a member of the dolphin family, belongs to the toothed whales. The dorsal fin is tall and located in the front half of their back. The fluke is small, but is usually visible when the whale starts to dive.

Sei Whale

The sei whale is, like the blue and fin whale, a baleen whale. The sei whale is 12-20 m in length, very dark in colour and the spout, 3 m in height, can be spotted in good weather conditions.

Sperm Whale

The Sperm whale is the largest of the toothed whales. Its most prominent feature is the enormous head, which can be up to 1/3 of the whale’s body length, which is up to 17-20 m.

Harbour porpoise

The harbour porpoise belongs to the toothed whales, forming a seperate family. With its body length being only 1,5-2 m, it is the smallest of all whale species.

White-beaked dolphin

The white-beaked dolphin, like all dolphins, belongs to the toothed whales. It is an extremely fast swimmer and comes frequently leaping towards ships and boats.

Fin Whale

The fin whale, a baleen whale, is closely related to the blue whale. The fin whale, 18-27 m in length, has a distinctive colour, which has been used for identification.

Illustrations © 2017 Jón Baldur Hlíðberg www.fauna.is