Up to 17 metres
Small crustaceans (esp. krill), small fish
45-90 years (estimated)
I am the much-loved HUMPBACK WHALE. Everyone likes me – can you guess why? I really don’t mind you daily visitors and will pretty much always give you a good show – the least, I will lift my beautiful flukes out of the water when leaving for a dive! Some days I might also breach, flipper- and tail-slap; or have a look at you instead!
We humpback whales might cross your ways in all oceans and are among the largest whales growing 12-17 metres long while weighing around 30 to 40 tons. Can you picture me throwing myself out of the water, for some seconds flying and spinning through the air, then crashing back down on the surface before a huge splash buries me and I slowly sink back down to where I belong? Before you fully realize what just happened, I will do it again, shooting out of the water, with my flippers like wings on the sides of the body. Seemingly in slow-motion I spin while fine water droplets are flying everywhere – SPLASH!
Did you see my wings? Aren’t they as beautiful and sparkling white as those of an angel? Just see how they shine underwater now that I swim close to the surface – an angel of the sea! Those flippers are a real gamechanger as I use them to navigate my body gracefully through the ocean, to speed up if needed, or even to gather and steer prey to my mouth. But listen up: only us Atlantic humpback whales have these enchanting white flippers.
If I am Icelandic? Not quite. I am more a tourist just like you. The waters around Iceland are my feedings grounds and I will visit them annually. Many of us humpback whales will migrate north for the summertime. Even though we are so many arriving at once, you will see me on my own almost all the time. Like most great whales I am a solitary animal, making the most out of my time here: feeding on at least one ton of krill and small schooling fish daily! While not missing out on a bite, I will grow a fat layer called blubber. It serves as an insulation while I am here in the cold waters around Iceland and keeps me cosy warm. Once my visit here comes to an end, it will work as a fat reserve and provides energy for the long journey ahead of me.
In fact, once winter approaches, I am headed back for warmer tropical waters, such as the Caribbean Sea or the west coast of Africa, where I will mate or give birth to a calf. My migration is one of the longest in the whole animal kingdom as I travel up to 8.000 km between my feeding and breeding grounds – a real globetrotter so to say.
Some of us, will return to Skjálfandi Bay year after year – this bay simply is stunning and its menu mouthwatering. Don’t you agree?
Oh right, before I forget and disappoint you: People really like me for my beautiful flukes, my tail. I show them almost always when leaving for a dive. Are you ready? On three: 1, 2, 3…
Did you have a close look? That black and white pattern you spotted on the underside of my flukes is really special – no other humpback will ever look like me – it is just as unique as your fingerprints!
You didn’t see it well? Don’t be so distressed, I will do it again!
Relative size to a human