Experience whales in Iceland

Traditional whaling in Iceland has changed. Whale meat hardly finds any customers in Iceland, Japan and Norway, the three classic whaling nations. Almost only tourists want to try the Icelandic delicacy. Above all, however, they want to get up close to the largest creatures. In the port of Húsavík, various companies with different concepts solicit customers for whale-watching tours.

Von Húsavík (Island) fahren zahlreiche Boote zur Walbeobachtung ab. Die Sylvía ist ein traditionelles isländisches Fischerboot aus Eichenholz. Seit 2007 wird es von der Firma Gentle Giants betrieben. / © Foto: Georg Berg
Numerous whale-watching boats depart from Húsavík (Iceland). The Sylvía is a traditional Icelandic fishing boat made of oak wood. Since 2007 it is operated by the company Gentle Giants. / © Photo: Georg Berg
Höhepunkt des Walewatchings ist die beim Abtauchen eines Buckelwals an der Unterseite weiße Heckflosse. Im Hintergrund ist die nur im Sommer besiedelte Insel Flatey zu sehen / © Foto: Georg Berg
The highlight of whale watching is the white tail fin on the underside of a humpback whale as it descends. In the background you can see Flatey Island, which is only populated in summer / © Photo: Georg Berg
Die schnellen Powerboote sind wendiger als die traditionellen Holzboote und lassen sich von abtauchenden Walen nicht so schnell abhängen. Teilnehmer müssen sich vor dem Start einen Überlebensanzug anziehen / © Foto: Georg Berg
The fast powerboats are more maneuverable than traditional wooden boats and are less likely to be lost by diving whales. Participants have to put on a survival suit before the start / © Photo: Georg Berg
Die Papageientaucherinsel (Puffin Island) in der Nähe von Húsavík ist während der Brutzeit Heimat für viele Papageientaucher / © Foto: Georg Berg
Puffin Island near Húsavík is home to many puffins during the breeding season / © Photo: Georg Berg
Die Opal ist ein Zweimast-Schoner. Das Segelschiff wird vom Heimathafen Húsavík aus zur touristischen Walbeobachtung eingesetzt / © Foto: Georg Berg
The Opal is a two-masted schooner. The sailing ship is used for tourist whale watching from its home port of Húsavík / © Photo: Georg Berg

Húsavík Whale Museum

The whale museum at the harbor provides information about the biology and habitat of whales in the North Atlantic. The eventful history of whaling is presented in several films. A visit in two parts before and after a whale watching tour is recommended. This way the impressions gained on the ship can be deepened. The entrance ticket is valid for the whole day.

Skelett eines Zahnwals im Walmuseum von Húsavík / © Foto: Georg Berg
Skeleton of a toothed whale in the whale museum of Húsavík / © Photo: Georg Berg
Nach dem Studium der verschiedenen Schautafeln beeindruckt die Größe der Skelette im anschließenden Nachbarraum  / © Foto: Georg Berg
After studying the various display boards, the size of the skeletons in the adjacent room is impressive / © Photo: Georg Berg
Die Bibliothek des Museums ist wie ein Wohnzimmer eingerichtet, in dem man schmökern und Videos schauen kann / © Foto: Georg Berg
The library of the museum is furnished like a living room, where you can browse and watch videos / © Photo: Georg Berg
Das Walmuseum zeigt in einem eigenen Raum auch die Meeresverschmutzung durch Plastikmüll / © Foto: Georg Berg
The Whale Museum also shows marine pollution from plastic waste in a separate room / © Photo: Georg Berg

Thirst for knowledge replaces hunger for whale meat

In the three remaining whaling nations, Norway, Japan and Iceland, consumption of whale meat is in sharp decline. Scientific whaling kills more whales worldwide than are in demand.

At the Whale Museum in Húsavík, observations from whale-watching boats have been scientifically recorded in a database since 2001 and evaluated together with other research institutions. The museum is open from March to October and the staff provides information about everything you want to know about whales.

Operators where whale watching can be booked:
Gentle Giants
Húsavìk Adventures
North Sailing
Salka Whale Watching

Wondrous Iceland Stories

Magical, mystical, whimsical. On our trip through Iceland, we experienced overwhelming nature, enjoyed the benefits of geothermal energy and tasted many an outlandish dish or of the beer that was only legalized in 1989. In Iceland there are leader sheep, but under no circumstances ponies. Instead, the descendants of the Vikings today have heated sidewalks, still seething volcanoes and a lot of creativity, which in the long dark months is the best recipe against the onset of winter depression. Other Moment Mal episodes are about hairy beer bottles, petrified trolls and wishing stones. Fermented, cruelly stinking Greenland shark contrasts with rye bread baked in hot earth. The whales that regularly appear off Húsavík are a popular photo motif during whale watching.

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