IWDG Humpback Whale Expedition

Ireland - Iceland 2018

Cruise Report now available

The IWDG Ireland to Iceland 2018 Humpback Whale Expedition was a great success. The expedition obtained fluke images of humpback whales and two adult blue whales, it engaged with local and national researchers and whale watching tour guides and with coastal communities. We also built on our relationship between two island nations that share a whale population.  

During the whole expedition including passage to and from Ireland, a total of 13 cetacean species were recorded. This reflects good species diversity with nine of these species recorded on passage and nine in Icelandic waters. The most frequently recorded species in Iceland were humpbacks, minke whales, white-beaked dolphin and harbour porpoise, which are recognised as the four most frequently recorded species.  

  Adult and calf Blue Whale. Photo Joanne O'Brien

An important component of this expedition was to try and obtain fluke images suitable for photo-id of individual humpback whales, in order to try and match these individuals to catalogues collected in Iceland and elsewhere including Ireland. A total of 55 individual fluke shots were collected during the course of the journey.  A total of five individual humpback whales were recorded in West Fjords.  Most were identified on more than one day and following extensive coverage of this area, due to poor weather elsewhere we feel that few whales were not recorded in the fjords during this period, suggesting a low number of site faithful whales occurred.   We obtained images of 55 recognisable humpback whales, of which seven were known individuals, having previously been recorded in Iceland, while 48 were new whales not recorded previously. One whale we photographed near Húsavík, is a match to the Blasket Islands, County Kerry and one is a new match to a breeding ground in Guadeloupe in the Carribean. The blue whale and calf had previously been reported in Iceland in 2007, 11 years previously. 

The Ireland to Iceland 2018 Cruise Report is now available for download. Download PDF (6.2MB)