When you take your trip to Iceland, see how many of the Below animals you can find. Some are easier to find than others.
Puffins spend the majority of their lives at sea and make landfall between May and August where they lay their eggs and raise their chicks until they are independent enough to head back out to sea.
While there are few places that you can see puffins in Iceland, The largest puffin colony is found on the Westman Islands. Just another reason why you should make an effort to go here on your trip to Iceland!
We had the opportunity to meet Toti when we were here in the Westman Islands.
The arctic fox was Iceland’s only land mammal before vikings settled here. They can be found in two colors, white in the winter and brown/grey in the summer and the other is dark brown all year round and lighter in the winter.
They are mostly found in the Westfjords, but if you’re lucky like us, you may spot one while driving around the Ring Road!
While they are not original inhabitants of the country, reindeer were introduced to Iceland and eventually migrated to the east where you are likely to spot them during the winter months when they head to the lowland searching for food.
Generally, Icelandic sheep are allowed to roam free, although death by motorists has given way to some restrictions. They have been in Iceland since the Viking times and they are one of the first animals that we came across while in Iceland!
The Icelandic horse is unique to Iceland and is thought to have descended from a breed of horse that is now extinct outside of Iceland. It is sure footed and able to cross rough terrain. They can be found in many different colors and are a guaranteed sighting while traveling along the Ring Road!
The best time to see whales in Iceland is from April to October, with peak season occurring between June-August.
What drew attention to whale watching in Iceland? Keiko the killer whale from “Free Willy”. He was caught off the waters of east Iceland in 1979 when he was two years old and after traveling to various aquariums and learning to perform for audiences, he was sold to Warner Brothers for the movie. After the movie, the Free Willy Foundation was created to find him a better home. In 1998, he was sent to the Westman Islands where he spent the next few years preparing for a life back in the sea with other killer whales. We were able to see this location while there. Free Willy was a significant movie of our childhood and it felt surreal seeing his happy home. Unfortunately, although Keiko was eventually released, he desperately sought human contact and his reintegration into the wild failed. He died of pneumonia at 27.
What type of whales? The most commonly seen whales are: Minke, humpback, White beaked dolphins, orcas.
While we are not normally bird watchers and we don’t claim to know a lot about birds, we wanted to touch on the guillemot bird and it’s eggs. We learned about this bird while on the Westman Islands and we found it to be pretty unique.
Instead of nests, the guillemot bird lays its eggs on rock edges and exposed cliffs. Because of this, their eggs have a built in survival mechanism. They are bottom heavy to prevent falling off of the cliffs and if they do, they spin in a tight circle. They also have tiny stru tires in their egg shell to keep them from falling and to keep them clean. Additionally, they have a high rate of gaseous exchange to help them deal with salt from exposure to sea spray and water-repelling characteristics that allow for self cleaning.
Significance in Westman Islands? Fresh eggs are considered a delicacy food after a winter of eating salty foods. The eggs of the guillemot are the most sought after eggs as they are somewhat larger than the eggs of a hen. In the Westman Islands, Sprangan is the national sport of gathering eggs. We were able to see and learn about this on our Westman Islands Express Tour.