Whale Safari

In the past week, whales have been spotted everywhere along the coast near Tromsø. Some reports said there were hundreds of them! Of course, we had to check it out… so yesterday we took our inflatable boat to the beach at Grøtfjord and we went out in search of whales. We saw a flew splashes at the horizon, and because the sea was very calm (almost flat) we figured it might be whales – but it turned out to be waves crashing on a rock 😀

Then we saw a huge group of birds and decided to check it out. They were swarming over a school of herring that was surfacing, the sea was boiling with them! The birds flew up and circled around us – a spectacular sight!

The sea boiling with crazy herring We were surrounded by LOTS of birds!

We thought the whales would surely come to eat the herring, as this is the reason they are around now – but there were no whales to be seen. We entered a few fjords, looking for activity – but nothing. Instead we spotted a big jellyfish 😀 Luckily it was a very mild day and there was no wind – so we didn’t get cold sitting in the boat.

The fishing boats were out for herring too A colourful jellyfish

At some point it started to get dark and our patience ran out, so we returned to the beach, slightly disappointed. We had already gotten the boat out of the water and started taking it apart next to the car, when a group of people approached us to ask if we had seen the whales. They had also just come back from a boat trip, and had seen lots of whales, just around the corner! They strongly encouraged us to go back and check them out before it got completely dark. It didn’t take long to decide: we were going back 😀

And after being directed to the right place, it didn’t take long to find two humpback whales! We could see their spray from a long way away. It was so exciting to get close to them – at times only a couple of meters! At first I was a bit scared, as our boat is small and they are so BIG, but they move very graciously and I got the feeling they are quite aware of their surroundings.

YES! Our first whale sighting :) It was very exciting to get so close to these mighty creatures

We followed them for a while, as they surfaced and dove under again. Unfortunately it was quite dark by then, so the photos we got are quite grainy and not always very sharp. But the experience was unforgettable 🙂

A fin with barnacles :) Diving under

The two of them… the town in the background is Tromvik (on the the left), and the island on the right is Vengsøya.

They are so big, yet very graceful in their movements... There were 2 of them swimming together

They were spraying and breathing out with funny noises. Apparently their breath smells really bad, but we didn’t get THAT close 😉

Blowing out Mission succeeded, happy girl :)

At some point they dove under, showing their classic tail (we didn’t get a photo unfortunately) – and I knew that meant they are diving deep and not coming up for a while. Indeed, they didn’t return and we also decided to go home before it got completely dark.

What a day! The online papers and other websites are full of stories of people’s encounters with whales, it’s been quite a magic weekend for many – even people without boats, as they appeared really close to the coast. Check out these photos from a family in kayaks, these amazing pictures from near Musvær, and a series of pictures taken from Sommarøy. And my favourite series of photos from Espen Bergersen where you can actually see the herring jumping around while the whales are eating – fantastic! He saw orca’s too – I’m jealous 🙂

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