June 12th, Whale Watching
Reykjavik harbour has several companies offering whale watching tours. Each one had marvellous photos of a whale’s tail next to a boat of excited tourists. But I had learnt from the puffin trip, that sometimes you are not as close as you think you will be, and clever photography can be misleading. Also, were these the best photos from 3 years ago, and the chances of seeing a whale today very slim? We went to ask.
The first learning point is that ‘whale’ includes dolphins and porpoises. They are, apparently, toothed whales. Therefore, a guarantee to see a whale, might actually be to see dolphins—not a lie, but not what I hoped for. We decided to book with special tours because we could look on their blog, and each day they wrote which whales they had actually seen. We knew humpback whales were in the area, we hoped we’d be lucky.
We arrived at the harbour, and exchanged our prebooked tickets for boarding passes. A bit odd, as we then walked 100 yards, and gave the boarding pass to the tour guide. We were offered sea-sickness pills. I am never sea-sick, but there was some pressure to take them, and I decided it would be daft not to, so I took them but Husband (who does get sea-sick) did not. Such is our marriage…
When on board, we were then advised to wear warm overalls. I had already dressed warmly, but decided to take their advice (good move). They had a supply of overalls below deck. I then rather resembled a whale myself.
We set off. A tour guide came on deck, and told us all about whales, and how to look for them (look for the rise of spray, the blow, when they come to the surface). She explained that there was no guarantee that we would see whales, but assured us it was likely.
The sea was choppy, but not especially rough. A few people looked a bit green (obviously hadn’t taken the pills) but no one was actually ill. After a while, we were told the guide had spotted ‘the blow’ and we were heading towards it. Then I saw it too. Such excitement! The trip was instantly worth the money.
The boat stopped, and wonders, a flipper came out and smacked the surface of the water. It was like being waved at. I made a sort of involuntary “aaagh” noise like you do when fireworks go off. Then the whale dived, and out came the tail, the iconic view, right next to the boat. Fabulous.
We continued on, and spotted two more humpback whales. We, of course, had neither binoculars nor camera with zoom. I grasped my iPhone and snapped as many photos as I could. The whales were so close to the boat, I was sure my pictures would be tremendous. When I looked at them later, they had captured waves, and nothing else. Husband’s were slightly better, so look closely and you can just about see bits of whale. It was better in real life.
Whales are huge, and wonderful, and it makes me sad that today they are killed for food. Our guide told us that whale meat was never an intrinsic part of the Icelandic diet—they occasionally ate the meat from a beached whale, but whaling was not in their history. Today, whales are caught in Iceland. The meat is sold for export (to places such as Japan) or served in restaurants to tourists. Since Covid, restaurant freezers are full of unsold whale meat. I’m hoping this discourages further whaling. There are better things to do when in Iceland than eat whale meat, alive whales should be worth more.
Hope you have a good day. Thanks for reading. Take care.
Love, Anne x
I tried to learn 2 Chronicles 7:14 while in Iceland. How much of it have you managed to remember? Read it again to refresh your memory:
If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
וְיִכָּנְעוּ עַמִּי אֲשֶׁר נִֽקְרָא־שְׁמִי עֲלֵיהֶם וְיִֽתְפַּֽלְלוּ וִֽיבַקְשׁוּ פָנַי וְיָשֻׁבוּ מִדַּרְכֵיהֶם הָרָעִים וַאֲנִי אֶשְׁמַע
מִן־הַשָּׁמַיִם וְאֶסְלַח לְחַטָּאתָם וְאֶרְפָּא אֶת־אַרְצָֽם׃
The sound it made, no one ever tells that part; they’re too caught up in the excitement of the visuals, I suppose.
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A whale of a time in Iceland. . . .
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