Sunday, 30 April 2017

Today the sky was dark and overcast, threatening to rain all afternoon. The sea smooth at first, but the swell started to rise as we traveled north. We continued to search all the way to Hrisey and then we received a call from another tour company that a humpback had been seen at the mouth of the fjord. When we approached the whale was below the surface and we spent some time waiting for the whale to surface. We scanned the area further and caught sight of the blow of the humpback whale. It was a few hundred metres from as so we made our way closer slowly but the whale went for a dive and was seen no more. As we started to leave the area, a minke whale was seen moving very slowly and was much easier to watch than the humpback. Due to time constraints we only could watch the minke for a short time before sailing back to Akureyri.

 

Saturday, 29 April 2017

The sea was perfectly flat and conditions were dry today as we set sail from Akureyri. A harbour porpoise surfaced directly in front of the boat not long after leaving the harbour, with smaller groups of two to three scattered along the way to Hrisey. A variety of seabirds were also on view that included great skuas, arctic skuas and the first sighting of an arctic tern this year. As we went past the island the blow of a humpback whale was seen a few hundred metres away. We made our way to the area and waited for the whale to resurface. It then appeared fifty metres from the boat and performed a series of surfaces before lifting its fluke and going for a deeper dive. We stopped the boat and allowed the animal to move around us, letting the whale to dictate how close we could get. The next time we saw the humpback it surfaced twenty metres away and swam in front of the boat, slowly coming up to breathe. It then lifted its fluke and went down deep and we had to move on home. 

Friday, 28 April 2017

The sea was quite choppy as a result of a strong south easterly wind blowing which meant there were lots of white caps on the water. However sailing was relatively smooth on the journey north as the wind and swell was behind us. Harbour porpoises were spotted underneath diving birds again today, with a small group of 2-3 individuals surfacing and then disappearing as we traveled past. We hadn't seen any cetaceans by the time we reached Hrisey and as we rounded the island and headed back towards Akureyri, the wind and swell was driving waves over the bow of the boat. Conditions worsened quickly with many of the passengers opting to come inside into the warmth. On the south side of the island, brown and arctic skuas were seen harassing a group of black headed gulls. As the conditions were quite rough it meant trying to spot wildlife had become very difficult. We arrived back in Akureyri without seeing any large cetaceans and therefore issued complimentary tickets. 

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Today begun quite grey dull and grey with clouds covering most of the sky. The clouds soon disappeared and the sun lit up the fjord. On the way out small groups of 2-3 harbour porpoises were seen popping up underneath gulls that were interested in the porpoises movements, although they seemed to be traveling rather than feeding. We searched in all the areas that have been successful in recent days but no whales seemed to be in the fjord. We rounded the north side of Hrisey and a call from another boat said the may have seen something, but after waiting sometime it seemed like a false alarm. Unfortunately no large cetacean species today and complimentary tickets were awarded.

 

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

The sea state and wind were ever changing on this trip with perfectly flat seas in some areas and choppy conditions in others. This was mainly due to the south westerly wind that was blowing, with the surrounding mountains sheltering sections of the fjord. A large number of harbour porpoises were seen throughout the sail north towards Hrisey with many individuals scattered over the area. As we approached the island a minke whale was spotted a couple of times before going down deeper. We waited for several minutes for the animal to reappear and when it did, it surfaced quite far from it's original position. As we turned the boat to make our way over to the whale, it had already gone down again. This continued for another 15-20 minutes. Due to the whale being very difficult to watch we continued the search further out. We went as far as the mouth of the fjord with no more luck, until a minke popped up within 15 metres of the boat, but just like before, it sunk beneath and vanished. Complimentary tickets were issued as the whale was very hard to watch and did not provide good views

Monday, 24 April 2017

Conditions were perfect today, flat seas and amazing visibility but a cold wind still blew however from the north. Harbour porpoises were spotted within ten minutes of leaving the harbour as a small group of 3-4 individuals cruised by. Porpoises were then seen throughout and as we approached Hrisey, a large blow was seen. It was a humpback whale that was feeding as we saw it's large head and open mouth rush to the surface. Another whale then surfaced much closer to us and we stalled the boat to watch this individual. The whale was swimming in very shallow water and was clearly feeding as we saw this animal also bring it's open mouth to the surface under a group of feeding birds. We had to watch from a distance as the water was very shallow and as a result the whale was not lifting it's fluke from the water to dive. At one point, the whale turned and swam towards us. The large silhouette was very close and the white pectoral fins were clearly visible. We watched this individual for an hour, slowly swimming and performing shallow dives to feed before deciding to head home. Everyone was very pleased to get such close views of the animal.

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Very cold wind was blowing from the north which meant sea conditions were a little bumpy. We were feeling confident however as we had recently had some good wildlife encounters in the fjord and went out hoping for more. It wasn't long before small groups of 2-3 harbour porpoises were seen traveling through the fjord or feeding under groups of kittiwakes. We traveled slowly through the area we had recently seen larger cetacean species, but had no luck on the outbound journey. As we approached Hrisey, the sea was much more choppy, with spray from the waves hitting those that stood at the bow of the boat. En route back to Akureyri lots more harbour porpoises were seen, surrounding the boat on all sides, but no whales today unfortunately. Complimentary tickets were issued.

Saturday, 22 April 2017

The weather was a little colder and overcast in comparison to yesterday's which felt like spring had finally arrived to the north of Iceland. We were very excited to get out on the water today after the amazing encounters with the fin whales of the previous tour. We searched the fjord as we traveled north as many birds were in the area, hoping to spot any fins or splashes below. As we passed Hjalteyri, there we saw a large blow. We slowed the boat and approached careful and there we saw a humpback whale. The animal surfaced a further two to three times before lifting its fluke and diving down. There it stayed for roughly five minutes. It resurfaced not too far from where we had originally seen it, appearing to be keeping the same course, north through the waves which were starting to build. Conditions further north were not supposed to be great and after viewing the whale perform a number of deeper dives, we changed direction and headed home.

Friday, 21 April 2017

Beautiful day in North Iceland today. The sun was shining and the sea was perfectly flat. We left the harbour very confident of finding wildlife as a result and soon found harbour porpoises, although these animals surfaced quickly and disappeared. After waiting a little while for them to resurface with no luck, we continued on. More porpoises were spotted as we made our way north, but we chose not to stop for these and watched them as we traveled. We made it not far behind Hjalteyri and a large blow appeared. We presumed it was the blow of  a humpback whale as these were common visitors in the fjord last spring and summer, but as we drew closer we realised it was something much larger. It was a fin whale and it wasn't alone. Two fin whales swam gently through the area and everyone was ecstatic. The whales stayed in the same area surfacing several times before going down for a few minutes. We stayed motionless each time waiting to see them again and if we didn't see these enormous animals right away, we heard their powerful blows. We spent some time watching them without moving our boat, allowing them to move around us and dictate how close our encounters became. At one point they swam within twenty metres of our vessel which was met by gasps from everyone on board. We spent an hour sitting and watching the whales before heading home. Everyone was extremely happy and smiling as they departed the boat. An encounter with the second largest animal on the planet won't be easily forgotten.

Thursday, 20 April 2017

The sea was relatively smooth as we sailed north in Eyjafjörður. Up ahead near Hjalteyri, snow clouds were visible and we knew the weather would worsen. The snow soon started to fall and visibility was greatly reduced, making wildlife spotting very difficult which was a real shame as a humpback whale was reported to be in the area. The snow was falling so hard that the camera was unable to focus on the birds flying by. Many seabirds were seen throughout the trip and in large numbers, especially fulmars and razorbills. The search continued nonetheless and very hard to watch harbour porpoises were seen on a couple of occasions with kittiwakes highlighting their location. Mainly due to the snowfall, no large cetaceans were seen and complimentary tickets were handed out.

 

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Pockets of blue sky around the fjord and perfectly flat seas, made for perfect spotting conditions and a very enjoyable sail this afternoon. These conditions allowed us to travel further than in previous tours, reaching the opening of Ólafsfjörður. A minke whale had been seen in the area a few days ago and there were reports of a whale today, by another tour company. We searched the location near the mouth of the fjord for some time and the minke whale was then spotted moving very quickly. The whale was proving to be very hard to watch as it surfaced some distance away from the area it was first seen, appearing just once before disappearing again. We waited for some time and unfortunately did not see the whale again. Conditions were perfect and with two boats searching, we were confident we would have spotted the animal if it surfaced again. Due to the speed it was moving and that it did not surface often, it's likely it was passing through the area. The search continued towards Akureyri, but no more cetaceans were seen. Complimentary tickets were issued as the whale was very elusive.

Sunday, 16 April 2017

Photographs and text by Mike Smith
Much warmer and brighter today than in previous days, but conditions at sea remained a little choppy, especially the waters outside of Eyjafjörður. As we journeyed away from Akureyri the sun shone upon the western side, highlighting the beauty of the surrounding mountain ranges. At first, sailing was smooth but progressively became worse as we approached the island of Hrisey. We had a good search in the area as we knew whales had been sighted yesterday morning, but had no luck. On the way back, huge flocks of long tailed ducks were seen flying across the fjord, with gannets, razorbills, fulmars and guillemots also being seen throughout the trip. Unfortunately no whales today so complimentary tickets were awarded. The landscape looked stunning and was appreciated by the passengers who were happy that they could come again and try their luck.

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Pictures by Megan Whittaker and text by Mike Smith
Whale Watching Tour: 13:00
Today's tour felt slightly warmer than yesterdays whilst in the harbour but soon became the coldest at sea, with freezing winds driving into the fjord from the north west. This meant sea conditions were a little choppy, especially closer to the mouth of the fjord. Harbour porpoises were once again sighted within close proximity to Akureyri and at various locations throughout the journey. Usually seen in groups of two to three individuals. We had been informed that a humpback whale was found far beyond the fjord and a minke whale near Hrisey, but was being very difficult to spot. As conditions and time prevented us from searching for the humpback, we focused on the minke and moved slowly through the area. After spending some time searching with no luck we decided to head back. Conditions were much smoother heading home and porpoises were once again on display nearer the city. Complimentary tickets were awarded as no large cetaceans had been seen.

 

Friday, 14 April 2017

Pictures by Megan Whittaker and text by Mike Smith
Whale Watching; 11:00
Another extremely cold start to the day as fresh snow had settled overnight, even forming icicles over our boat. Snow continued to fall all morning and throughout the trip, with the odd patch of blue sky and sunshine on show. Conditions were a little rough as winds from the north stirred the sea and made spotting a little difficult. Not long after leaving the harbour we encountered 2-3 harbour porpoises which were traveling very quickly and disappeared after a couple of surfaces. We traveled north towards the mouth of the fjord searching areas that we have recently seen cetaceans but were unable to find any larger species. We saw small groups of porpoises scattered much closer towards the harbour of Akureyri. Complimentary tickets were issued as we did not see any whales today but all passengers enjoyed the trip and the stunning landscapes of Eyjafjord.

Thursday, 13 April 2017

Pictures by Megan Whittaker and Text by Mike Smith

Whale Watching Tour: 11:00

Bright but very cold morning in Akureyri with temperatures measuring at -2 celsius, with all passengers deciding to wear one of our overalls for some much needed warmth. Shortly after departing the harbour we encountered a group of 5-6 harbour porpoises feeding under diving kittiwakes. Soon after, many more porpoises appeared all around the boat at varying distances. All in all we saw at least 30 individuals scattered in small 3-5 individual pods. We kept sailing north towards the mouth of the fjord in search of some larger animals and were joined by a fulmar flying a metre or two above our heads, displaying it´s gliding ability. Birds were everywhere on the outbound journey and we were treated to a huge flock of long-tailed ducks all taking off together. We circled around Hrisey and started to make our way back. More porpoises were seen surfacing which excited the passengers, but unfortunately there were not any larger cetacean species seen on todays trip. Just before returning to port we decided to go within metres of the steaming hot waterfall, giving passengers a nice photo opportunity that was enjoyed by many. Although no whales were seen today, everyone enjoyed the sail, landscape and porpoise encounters. Everyone was offered a complimentary ticket to hopefully see the larger leviathans next time. 

 

Friday, 7 April 2017

Text and Pictures by Megan Whttaker
Whale Watching 11:00
It's always amazing in the fjord, so much to see even if the whales are not around. The weather was incredible, perfect whale spotting conditions. On our journey, 45 minutes after leaving the harbour a minke whale popped up 100 meters from us, We were waiting for it to surface again but we didn't see it for 20 minutes so we decided to leave,  go and look further out. We traveled up the west coast north and south down the east coast. We also found the occasional harbour porpoise, saw a mother and baby speeding away and once again hundreds of long-tailed ducks.. We were lucky to find the minke whale again on the way back and were able to watch it for a while. Got some nice pictures and a video that can be seen on our facebook page.  The grey clouds loomed over us and threatened rain for the whole tour but just the odd drop here and there we kept dry.

 

Thursday, 6th April 2017

Text and Pictures by Megan Whittaker
Whale Watching at 11:00
We were looking forward to getting out on the waters again after the amazing tour on Monday. The weather was mostly good, rained slightly but just fine rain and there was not much wind, in some areas no wind at all with mirror calm waters. There were hundreds of long-tailed ducks in the fjord today, most i've ever seen on a tour before. Not as many harbour porpoises but the 5-10 we did see were pretty easy to photograph and we had a nice encounter from usually a shy species. We searched a very large area and even went further to the north-west, sea conditions giving us the opportunity today. Unfortunately no Eyjafjord humpbacks but we did find a sneaky minke whale on the way home that tested our patience, taking 15-19 minute dives in between surfaces. We only had time to see two surface sequences before heading home but the last surfaces were close to the boat and  everyone got to see. A very long tour but nice to be out on the water in Eyjafjörður. 

 

Monday, 3 April 2017

Pictures and Text by Megan Whittaker
Whale Watching at 12:30
There was no scheduled tours today but we had a group ask if we would be possible to go out and as we love to be on the water we could not say no. At 12:30 we left the harbour with our vessel Skruður and headed north. Plenty of birdlife to see and the landscape is always incredible as we travel up Iceland's longest fjord. Once again it was all the way to Hrísey to find cetaceans today, all seemed to be enjoying the calmer, sheltered western side of the island. There was another whale watching vessel out and so we radioed to see if they had seen anything, they had seen a humpback whale close to the harbour of Dalvik. It took us a little while to find it as we were not expecting it to be so close to the harbour. Literally just past the harbour walls in water depths of less that 20 meters. The whale seemed calm and just going around in circles, we guess just enjoying the company. We stopped the boat and just enjoyed watching the humpback, by doing this the whale felt comfortable and surfaced just 5 meters from us in quite a few occasions, circled us like it was giving us a curious look. It's always wonderful for a wild animal to come and say hello. On the way home we saw numerous harbour porpoises, over 20 at least. Birds seen included; eider ducks, long-tailed ducks, black-headed gulls, northern fulmars, black guillemots and one little auk.
An amazing day in Eyjafjörður.
 

 

Saturday, 1 April 2017

It was quite overcast when we first started the tour today, but soon enough the skies opened up and everything became brighter. The seas were fairly good for most of the tour, with the exception of one spot near East-Hrísey but it got better as soon as we moved further West. We spotted a few elusive porpoises by Árskógarsandur but only managed to follow them a little while before it was time to head back to land. Of course, since there were no proper sightings we handed out complimentary tickets to all our guests in hopes that they would be able to come again another day - in Reykjavík or Akureyri.

Guide and photographer on today's tour: Heiða