Whale watching

Best time for whale watching

Whale watching in winter season

Winter is the best time of the year to go whale watching in Norway. During winter each year, giant humpback whales travel a few thousand kilometres from the Caribbean to the cold waters of Northern Norway. With calm waters and very few enemies, the warm seas of the Caribbean are the perfect place to mate and give birth to their calves. But there is little food there. They have an urgent need to replenish their fat reserves, so they have to migrate to the North.

The whales may be somewhat shy, so don’t expect them to swim to the shoreline to greet you just because you’re in town. They go where the food is, and they eat fish, especially herring. By joining a whale safari, you greatly increase your chances of catching a glimpse of these gigantic and extraordinary mammals.

The whales thrive in many areas of Northern Norway. Vesterålen is known as a year-round whale destination. Due to its close proximity to the continental shelf, this is a nutrient-rich area. Here you are approximately 95% certain of spotting whales, even on short trips. The ports of Andenes and Stø offer guided summer whale safari tours from May to September. From Andenes, you can also take a winter whale safari tour with a different route into the fjords. 

During summer, Lofoten also does guided safari tours. Tromsø is another great destination for whale watching and offers guided safari tours during the winter. Senja, Skjervøy and Alta are other destinations where you can find guided tours.

Whales Tromsø Region

This is not an aquarium. Watch the whales feed in the wild.

Nowadays, people would much rather experience wild animals in their own habitats, and not behind glass windows or barred cages. Nature itself has indeed become the new zoo. Northern Norway is one of the best places in the world to watch different whale species in their natural habitat. At different times of the year you can spot orcas, or killer whales, as well as humpbacks, porpoises, sperm whales, minke whales, blue whales and many other types of whales. The best way to avoid disappointment is to make sure you have done some good research beforehand about where and when to go to be able to see your preferred choice of whale species.

They are unique, graceful, beautiful and mysterious

Whales are animals that have captured more and more of people’s attention and imagination over the past decades.

They are unique, graceful, beautiful and mysterious. They bond, sing, nurture, play and cooperate with one another.

They also have a lot of things in common with us human beings.

They are social, air-breathing mammals who nurse their babies with their own milk, take extraordinarily good care of their young and teach them life skills. No wonder so many people around the world want to experience these giant magnificent mammals in their natural habitat.

During winter there are a lot of plankton and krill along the coast and in the fjords of Northern Norway. They attract the fish, which again attract the whales back to the Norwegian waters. To watch a humpback whale feed is an extraordinary experience.

They open their mouths wide and gulp enormous mouthfuls of seawater; their prey gets caught amongst the baleen plates as the whales force the water back out through them.

In the fjords of Northern Norway in winter months you can also spot a lot of orcas and the occasional finback whale, the world’s second largest animal.

In recent years, the herring shoals have been moving further and further north, and the whales follow them. In winter, the fjords of Senja and Tromsø have been the best places to go whale watching for some years, but recently, many whales have been seen in the fjords of Skjervøy. This is part of the excitement of going whale watching; you never know where the whales will go next!

Whales Tromsø Region

The whales may be somewhat shy, so don’t expect them to swim to the shoreline to greet you just because you’re in town.

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Diving with Whales

"... The enormous whales circle around, creating walls of bubbles. Aesthetically it is a ballet. The giants are moving smoothly. The ballerinas weigh around 1,5 to 5,5 tonns. If they are orcas. The humpback moves equally elegant and these artists are performing with their 15 meters of length and 30 tonn of weight. Just as if it was nothing. "It is amazing to see how the whales make the herring get together".

Agnes talks about the fascinating fishing technique of the whales. "Then the whales disappear into the deep, just to come up again. Silently. With their mouth open. Getting a meal of around one thousand five hundred kilos!"  Agnes measure the amount with her arms, looking like a fisherman showing the size of his catch. ..."

Read the whole story here

Agnes Brim Explorer
Whales and mountains

Not all whales travel to the Caribbean in the summer

There are great alternatives for the cold-blooded as well - for everyone who prefers sunny summer days to cold winters, don´t worry. 

In Northern Norway, sperm whales are best spotted between June and August, and during the summer you can occasionally also see pilot whales, minke whales and different types of dolphins. 

Whether it is on your bucket list or not, whale watching is truly an amazing experience that you should consider if you have the chance. Because watching these giant and playful animals swim alongside your boat is something you won’t forget overnight. And perhaps best of all, unless you’re a fish, they are friendly animals and would never do anything to harm you. But if you’re lucky, they might swing by your boat to say hello.

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