Whales of Faxaflói Bay
Our common visitors on the whale watching tours we operate from Reykjavik Harbour
Harbor Porporise (Phocoena)
The harbour porpoise is small but rotund and stocky through the mid-section, tapering to a slender tailstock. It has a blunt and rounded snout without a prominent beak. The harbour porpoise has a very dark gray or dark brown back, shading to a lighter gray patch on the sides and a white belly. A dark stripe extends for its dark flippers to the eyes.
The harbour porpoise consumes approx. 10% of its body weight each day, mainly non-spiny fishes such as herring, cod, whiting, squid, pollock, and sardines.
The local population is believed to be 25,000-27,000 animals. They often form large groups of up to 250 individuals.
Length: 1.5-2 metres
Weight: 55-70 kilograms
Worldwide population: Unknown
Life expectancy: About 30 years
White-beaked Dolphin (Lagenorhynchus albirostris)
The white-beaked dolphin is a sturdy, robust-bodied animal that can reach 3 metres in length and weigh up to 350 kg when fully grown. White-beaked dolphins are fast and powerful swimmers that are attracted to boats in order to bow ride, i.e. swimming in the pressure wave in front of a boat.
White-beaked dolphins have a varied diet of fish, ranging from sand eels and herring to cod, whiting and haddock. These dolphins work together when feeding using whistles, tail slaps and leaps to coordinate their hunt.
The population size around Iceland is estimated to be 10,000- 12,000 animals.
Length: 2,5-3 metres
Weight: 180-350 kilograms
Worldwide population: Unknown
Life expectancy: About 25 years
Minke Whale (Balaenoptera acutorostrata)
The minke whale is counter-shaded-black to dark gray on top, white below. Some minkes have a light-coloured chevron on the back behind the head. Two areas of lighter gray appear on each side: one behind the flippers and another below and forward of the dorsal fin. Minke whales also have a characteristic white band on each flipper, contrasting with its very dark gray top colour. Like all baleen whales the minke whale has 2 blowholes.
Minke whales feed primarily on krill in the southern hemisphere and on small schooling fish (capelin, cod, herring, pollock) or krill in the northern hemisphere.
The Icelandic minke whale population is estimated to be 50,000 - 60,000 animals.
Length: 7-10 metres
Weight: 8-10 tons
Worldwide population: Possibly 1,000,000
Life expectancy: About 50 years
Humpback Whale (Megaptera novaeangliae)
The head of a humpback whale is broad and rounded when viewed from above, but slim in profile. The body is not as streamlined as other rorquals, but is quite round, narrowing to a slender tail. The body is black on the upper side, and mottled black and white on the under side. This colour pattern extends to the flukes.
Humpback whales feed on krill, small shrimp-like crustaceans, and various kinds of small fish. Each whale eats up to 1 and 1/2 tons of food a day.
Northern Atlantic humpback whales migrate to their breeding grounds in the Caribbean. In the summertime, they frequent shallow waters around Iceland and come often into the fjords and bays in search of food. The population size in Icelandic waters is uncertain, but is estimated to be around 1,500-1,800 individuals.
Length: 13-17 metres
Weight: 25-40 tons
Worldwide population: 10,000-15,000
Life expectancy: Ca. 95 years