Sea background

Most mammals live on land, but there are three main exceptions because whales, seals and sea cows have almost completely adapted to living in the ocean. Sea cows are nowadays only found in the tropics while seals and whales are found all over the world. Many seal and whale species have been seen in Eyjafjörður.
Marine mammals have, like other mammals, warm blood and have to get oxygen by breathing air. Therefore they have to overcome several challenges in the cold oceans. On the other hand it is quite convenient to have warm blood in a cold ocean as activity can be maintained despite the cold. Cold blooded animals become sluggish at cold temperatures. Most marine mammals have a thick layer of blubber for insulation.
This insulation works so well that marina mammals are nowhere as abundant as in cold waters of the world. The most common seal species are all living along the edge of the sea ice around the Arctic and the Antarctic. The ice edge is usually some distance north and west of Iceland and, although nor rare, these northern seals are common visitors to Iceland, most frequently along the north coast. Only two species of seals are really native to Iceland, harbour and grey seal, neither of which leaves the coastal waters. However five other species from the north visit Iceland on a regular basis.
  Whales are also found in the Arctic and Antarctic waters and a few species are specially adapted to living in very cold waters. However the most numerous species are most common in the cold temperate zone where cold and warmer currents meet. Many migrate to warmer waters in the winter when food is harder to get in the colder ecosystems.
Iceland is right where the cold and warm oceanic currents meet and consequently Icelandic waters are rich in whales. The species are many and numerous. At least 12 species of cetaceans occur regularly in Icelandic waters, 5 species of baleen whales and 7 species of toothed whales, including dolphins and porpoise. In addition, 11 species have been recorded more sporadically.
Many whale species have been spotted in Eyjafjörður but as many species are oceanic and avoid the coast they can most frequently be seen in the outer part of the fjord.

spendyr Hnúfubakur (Mynd: Tryggvi Sveinsson) Hnúfubakur (Mynd: Tryggvi Sveinsson)

spendyr2 Hrefna á stökki. (Mynd: Árni Halldórsson) Hrefna á stökki. (Mynd: Árni Halldórsson)


The Fisheries Science Center | University of Akureyri | Borgum v./Norðurslóð | IS 600 Akureyri | Tel: +354 460 8900 | fax +354 460 8919 | E-mail: hreidar(hjá)

Design / Programing / Hosting - ArcticPortal