Surtsey & Heimaey, The Westman Islands
It was hard to decide which was more fascinating–the killer whales or the gannets. Mid-morning, our Captain spotted a group of whales in the distance; he was tipped off by the birds diving all around them. It had been a few days since we’d seen some whales, so everyone was excited to head to the bow and watch the action as we approached. We discovered there were three groups of whales, including males, females, and calves, and they were darting around, clearly feeding on something. Every now and then, one would lob its tail, lunge, or jump right out of the water. Killer whales are always a fantastic sighting, but these ones were almost shown up by the action of the seabirds all around them. A mob of gannets filled the air with movement. Gannets are large seabirds with long necks, a yellowish head and slender, pointed wings. Their feathers are so smooth, they seem to be molded from plastic. One of their special skills is a dramatic dive that begins high in the air. They fly straight down and pull their wings back at the last minute, entering the water with minimal splash and a short plume of bubbles. They look like needles making stitches across the surface of the sea. Between the whales, birds, and fish, the photographers could hardly keep up.
After lunch we stopped at Heimaey, a volcanic island with a fascinating story written on the landscape. Read More>
Jul 19, 2016
National Geographic Explorer