An unusually high number of northern bottlenose whales (Hyperoodon ampullatus) have been sighted in fjords in North and East Iceland, RÚV reports. It’s unknown why these creatures have been frequenting Icelandic waters, but whatever the reason, it’s been a treat for landbound whale-watchers and nature enthusiasts.
Pods of bottlenose whales have remained around the Akureyri waterfront over the last few days. They’ve also been spotted further east around villages such as Þórshöfn and Borgarfjörður Eystri.
While scientists are unsure why the bottlenoses have been spending time in the area in such numbers, they do know that they are not in search of food in Icelandic fjords. “No, bottlenoses are deep-sea whales,” explained marine/fisheries biologist Hreiðar Þór Valtýsson. “They’re part of the Ziphiidae family and are big deep-sea and open-water animals. Most whale species head south in the fall and maybe they’ve wandered into the fjords here on their way.”
Bottlenose whales have been known to enjoy long stopovers in Iceland before, but tend to leave just as quickly as they appear. During the summer of 2008, a pod of them remained around the Akureyri waterfront for many weeks and became a major tourist attraction in the process. Days after an informational placard about the pod had been put up along the water’s edge, however, they’d decided to move on.