Not only migrant birds have arrived in Iceland, bringing with them a hope of spring—so have the whales. A blue whale, the largest animal on earth, was sighted from whale watching boat Náttfari, operated by North Sailing, on Skjálfandi bay in Northeast Iceland early this week.
“There weren’t many people on the tour, which was a shame because there was so much life in the ocean. We also saw many dolphins and a minke whale,” Helga Kristín Torfadóttir, a passenger on Náttfari, told Vísir.
“People cheered and yelled when the blue whale appeared. It was close to us and showed us its tail several times,” Helga described of the sight. She caught a picture of the blue whale. “I’d say it was approximately 21-25 meters long. The tail alone was probably four meters in diameter and the sight was impressive.”
Blue whales can grow as long as 30 meters (99 feet) and weigh up to 200 tons. The migrant whale heads south in the winter but returns to northern territories in the spring in search for food—the same blue whale has been seen off the coast of Mauritania and Iceland.
Blue whales are at a risk of extinction and have been a protected species since 1966. The Icelandic Marine Research Institute estimates that around 1,000 blue whales reside in the ocean around Iceland, which is among the species’ most important territories.
Blue whales are regularly spotted on tours run by whale watching companies in Húsavík, known as the ‘Whale Watching Capital of Europe.’