It’s zero degrees Celsius outside as our boat sets off onto the Atlantic Ocean from Grindavik, a small fishing town located on the southwestern coast of Iceland.
The two of us are here for a whale watching tour with Elding Whale Watching and as the freezing sea breeze starts hitting our faces, we ponder whether we’ve made the right decision to be here. Although the sun is shining brightly, we’ve just arrived from New York City and have never experienced weather this cold before.
Soon after departing Grindavik harbor, we spot a large group of white-beaked dolphins in the water. The two of us saw one of these cute dolphins at SeaWorld San Antonio during our Beluga Whale Interaction so it was nice for us to spot some frolicking in the wild.
We leave this group of dolphins and within twenty minutes another pod of white-beaked dolphins is located, however these ones are much more difficult to get close to because they are protecting many baby dolphins. Very cute!
But as nice as these dolphins were, they aren’t the reason we are freezing our tails off in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean – we are here to see some whales! The Elding tour boat sets off into deeper waters and ten minutes later, we hear one of the crew excitedly yelling over the boat’s P.A. system…
“Our captain has spotted a HUGE blow on the horizon about 4 miles away!”
Using powerful binoculars, the captain has seen a large geysir-like blow from a whale and we immediately head in that direction. The tour narrator goes on to explain how they find whales on these tours – from their fish finder technology to looking for movement and feeding birds on the water. After thirty minutes, we arrive at the location of the blow and are greeted with this!
Once the whale surfaced, the crew were quickly able to identify what type of whale it was…
It was a blue whale!
This whale is the largest known mammal to have ever existed at a whopping 30 meters in length and 180 metric tons in weight! And here we are just 10-20 meters away from it, listening in awe to this blue whale breathing strongly – exhaling water through its blowhole and then sucking in oxygen shortly afterwards.
The whale disappears under the water to feed as we and the rest of the tour group patiently wait for it to resurface. We’re feeling incredibly privileged right now – Elding have been taking whale watching tours for twelve years and 2011 was the first time they have seen blue whales in Icelandic waters!
Within a few minutes, the blue whale comes back up for air and the captain quickly steers the boat towards it as we get more close-up views of this massive animal.
The boat follows this blue whale for quite some time and we also see many huge blows coming from the distance, suggesting that there are many other big whales in the area.
On the way back to Grindavik Harbor this is proved true as a fin whale and a humpback whale are also seen. Unfortunately these whales didn’t surface for long enough for us to get a good look at them.
Despite the freezing weather, we definitely made the right decision to take this magnificent whale watching tour with Elding. Never in a million years did we think we would see a blue whale in the wild and here we were, on our first day in Iceland, following one for over an hour!
Have you seen a whale before? Or is whale watching on your bucket list?
A huge thanks to Súsanna from ICELANDisHOT for organizing this Elding Whale Watching Tour. As always, all thoughts and opinions are our own.