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Humpback whale Whalewatching Reindeer in SE Iceland Icelandic horses Seal swimming in Jökulsárlón


The arctic fox is probably the only truly native land mammal in Iceland. It has been hunted mercilessly and is now an uncommon sight except in the remote Hornstrandir. They vary in colour from blue-white to dark brown depending on the season. Mink have been introduced and rats and mice can be found in urban areas. Reindeer were brought from Norway in the 1770s and herds totalling some 3000 animals now roam freely across Eastern Iceland. In the summer they frequent the high plateaus but in winter as the weather deteriorates they come down to the coast and are easily seen.

Reindeer in SE Iceland

Perhaps Iceland’s most celebrated animals are its marine mammals, and there are several places from which to take a whale watching expedition. June is probably the best month to be sure of a sighting as the whales move north to their feeding grounds.

Humpback whale
Seals basking at Jökulsárlón

It is possible to see the blue whale, probably the largest animal that has ever lived, but hump back whales have been a more common sight in recent years. On a trip out of Husavík in June, we saw seven. Minke whales occur all round the coasts but this year the Icelanders have

begun hunting them again which will no doubt make them less inclined to approach boats.

Killer whales, in small groups, are usually seen off the west coast and dolphins, particularly the white beaked dolphin, feed in the bays. Harbour seals, and to a lesser extent, grey seals, are a regular sight basking on beaches and rocky outcrops and swimmg in Jökulsárlón.

Animals of Iceland