Exploring the West Fjords

Aug 15, 2019 - National Geographic Explorer

The winds in the north Atlantic were quite strong, so we spent the day looking for sheltered areas for activities. We stayed in the ĺsafjarðjúp area, which offered us some protection. In the morning, we heard presentations on photography and the geology of Iceland.

After lunch, we set out in our fleet of Zodiacs to look for humpback whales. Most of our guests were treated to close encounters with these magnificent creatures who were feeding all around us. Some of them breached for us while most showed off surface blows and views of their tail flukes as they dove. The tail fluke of each humpback whale is unique and can be used to identify individuals. We had a whale of an afternoon!

In addition to whale watching, our Grosvenor Teacher Fellows went out to do a plankton tow. The aims of this tow were to see if there was any plastic nearby—fortunately there wasn’t—as well as to collect some of the zooplankton that forms the base of the marine food chain. The results of the tow were viewed under a microscope as part of our evening recap.

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About the Author

Michael Jackson


An experienced traveler, Michael has lived on several continents, including a year spent working as a naturalist and zoologist in Galápagos and three months in Kenya conducting a study of birds of prey. He is the author of Galápagos: A Natural History, a comprehensive guidebook which details the natural history of the plants and animals found on the islands. 

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