When most individuals consider touring to Iceland, wildlife might be not their main consideration.
However whereas it could not have the polar bears of the Canadian Arctic and Norway or the grizzlies, moose, and different dynamic megafauna you’ll discover with Alaskan Animals, watching wildlife remains to be one in every of our favourite issues to do in Iceland.
Animals in Iceland are mainly divided into two foremost teams, domesticated livestock and wild animals.
And whereas there aren’t many endemic Icelandic wildlife species to talk of on land, there are fairly just a few fascinating launched species (together with the well-known Icelandic Horses and an enormous herd of Reindeer).
The frigid waters that encompass the island’s 3,000+ miles of shoreline are teeming with marine life, together with quite a few species of dolphins, seals, and whales and greater than 300 species of fish.
You’ll additionally discover its shores teeming with birds, of which 70 species are identified to breed in Iceland and greater than 350 have been noticed there.
Whereas we will’t presumably cowl the entire Icelandic animals, right here’s a have a look at among the most attention-grabbing species you’re prone to see throughout your go to should you head into the nation’s ample pure areas.
Animals In Iceland Information
- Icelandic Horses
- Icelandic Sheep
- Icelandic Sheepdog
- American Mink
- Arctic Foxes
- Atlantic White-sided Dolphin
- White-beaked Dolphin
- Quick-beaked Frequent Dolphin
- Striped Dolphin
- Bottlenose Dolphin
- Risso’s Dolphin
- Harbour Porpoise
- Hooded Seals
- Earless Harp Seal
- Ringed Seal
- Harbor Seal
- Grey Seal
- Bearded Seal
- Fin Whale
- Blue Whale
- Humpback Whale
- Minke Whale
- Sperm Whale
DOMESTICATED ANIMALS OF ICELAND
Arguably among the many hottest Iceland animals, Icelandic Horses are a typical sight alongside the Ring Street that guests use to journey across the nation.
Smaller, sturdier, and arguably cuter than different breeds, these pony-sized horses descend from animals delivered to Iceland by the Norsemen within the ninth and tenth centuries.
They’re hardy animals constructed to resist the rugged local weather of winters in Iceland and are comparatively illness free. Icelandic regulation ensures no different horse breeds are allowed to be imported, and any exported animals might not return.
Although they’re very pleasant to people, it’s essential that you just not feed the horses something, as it could be dangerous to their well being.
Revered in Norse mythology, Icelandic Horses are beloved world wide at present. They’re nonetheless generally used for leisure and sheepherding, however are additionally common for racing and exhibits, the place they show two gaits distinctive to their breed.
Consequently, these hardy herbivores are extraordinarily adept at discovering meals, even throughout the harsh winter in Iceland.
The stocky, short-legged breed is a Northern European short-tailed sheep, with no wool on their faces or legs.
Their dual-coated fleece is ideal for withstanding extraordinarily chilly climates and are available in colours starting from black and brown to white and gray.
You’ll see Icelandic Sheep in nice numbers as you journey the nation, sometimes standing proper in the course of the street!
However they’re rather more skittish than the horses, so don’t attempt to method, pet, or feed them.
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Wherever there are sheep, it’s virtually inevitable that there will probably be sheepdogs.
It’s no shock that this lovely breed, a member of the spitz household (together with Akitas, Chows, and Huskies), descends from these introduced by the Vikings.
Measuring 17 to 18 inches tall and weighing 25-30 kilos, Icelandic Sheepdogs are knowledgeable herders with a robust construct, eager listening to, and a seemingly limitless provide of power.
They’ve an distinctive work ethic, typically competing in canine agility, herding, and obedience competitions.
Consequently, the importation of canine to Iceland was banned in 1901, and the Icelandic Canine Breeder Affiliation was established in 1969 in an effort to protect the beloved breed.
The American Mink, which is extra intently associated to the Siberian Weasel than the European Mink, is the animal mostly farmed for its fur.
That’s exactly how the species wound up changing into invasive in Iceland: A number of of them escaped from native farms, made their method into the wild, and bred like loopy.
Now they’re generally seen round Iceland’s copious waterways, the place they feed on rodents, fish, crustaceans, and birds.
Sadly, the American Mink’s fast inhabitants progress has led to a decline within the European Mink in areas the place the 2 species overlap.
The Arctic Fox is the one fatherland animal in Iceland. However it’s pretty troublesome to identify until you head away from the cities and enterprise into the nation’s extra distant highlands.
Often known as the polar fox or snow fox, these comparatively tiny animals (common 18 to 22 inches lengthy, and weighing six to eight kilos) are widespread all through the Arctic tundra.
With fur masking their whole our bodies, together with the foot pads, they’re made for frigid climates, and might face up to temperatures right down to −94 °F.
The Arctic Fox’s dense, multilayered fur supplies the perfect insulation of any mammal on the planet. Their fur adjustments coloration with the seasons to supply most camouflage capabilities, going from brown in summer season to white in winter.
They’re additionally identified to cache meals for the lean occasions and might retailer physique fats for terribly lengthy intervals of time.
READ MORE: 30 Wonderful Galapagos Islands Animals
Reindeer are one other Iceland animal that was launched from Norway, however not till the latter a part of the 18th century.
They have been initially introduced over for the aim of farming (as is widespread all through Scandinavia). However the locals didn’t take to conventional reindeer husbandry, so the animals have been by no means domesticated.
Right now these iconic Arctic animals all stay within the wild. Though a herd in southeast Iceland sadly died out years in the past, there are nonetheless hundreds of them grazing within the nation’s northeast area.
They have an inclination to stay to the upper elevations throughout the heat summer season months, transferring down into the coastal grasslands seeking meals throughout the winter.
The spectacular herd’s territory extends from Vopnafjördur within the north to the Glacier Lagoon within the south.
However the most well-liked locations to see reindeer in Iceland throughout the summer season months embody Brúaröræfi, Vesturöræfi, and the desert expanses round Snæfell (which is the fourth tallest mountain in Iceland).
MARINE ANIMALS IN ICELAND
Wildlife in Iceland could also be comparatively restricted on land. However, because of the island’s sub-Arctic location within the North Atlantic, its waters are teeming with marine like.
Right here’s an outline of the numerous marine animals Iceland has to supply:
Dolphins in Iceland
There are six species of marine dolphins which can be seen no less than considerably sporadically in Iceland’s icy waters, in addition to one porpoise and one whale that isn’t really a whale.
Iceland’s dolphin species embody the distinctively-colored Atlantic White-sided Dolphin; the White-beaked Dolphin (which has a brief, white snout); the Quick-beaked Frequent Dolphin (which has an hourglass sample on either side); the Striped Dolphin (which has a blue, white, or pink stomach); the Bottlenose Dolphin; and Risso’s Solphin (which is intently associated to Pilot and False Killer Whales).
Talking of Killer Whales, do you know that the Orca is technically a member of the oceanic dolphin household, of which it’s the largest member?
These apex predators are fearsome hunters who’re identified to work in cooperation, preying on seals, small whales, and even different dolphin species.
However outdoors of Sea World, they’re not likely thought-about a risk to people.
The Harbour Porpoise, one of many world’s smallest marine mammals, is a reasonably widespread sight on Iceland whale watching excursions.
They’re usually discovered near the coast and are identified to sometimes go into river estuaries which can be positioned miles from the ocean.
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Seales in Iceland
There are six seal species that stay on the islands, ice packs, and coasts of the Arctic and North Atlantic Oceans.
The rarest of those is the Hooded Seal, whose vary extends from Canada’s Gulf of St. Lawrence east to Svalbard, Norway.
They’re usually gray or white with black spots, however their pups boast a gorgeous blue-grey coat for the primary 14 months.
They’re named for the grownup male’s capacity to inflate a balloon-like sac with its nostrils to draw mates.
Different Seals in Iceland
Extra generally seen are the Earless Harp Seal, whose scientific identify interprets to “Greenlandic seal”; the ample Ringed Seal (a favourite prey for polar bears and orcas), named for his or her grey-rimmed darkish spots; and the Harbor Seal (a.ok.a. widespread seal), which is the world’s most generally distributed pinniped species.
Iceland guests may have the prospect to see the Grey Seal, whose taxonomic identify (Halichoerus grypus) means “hooked-nosed sea pig.”
After which there’s the Bearded Seal, one other of the polar bear’s favourite prey, whose copious whiskers look fairly dashing once they’re dry.
WHALES IN ICELAND
Happening a whale-watching cruise is arguably among the many hottest ecotourism actions in Iceland, the place a number of cetacean species abound offshore.
So it’s ironic that the nation stays one of many few within the western hemisphere with an energetic whaling looking business, as a result of they refuse to acknowledge the worldwide moratorium on business whaling.
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You may in all probability think about the response when the New York Occasions profiled Icelandic whaling magnate Kristjan Loftsson in 2018.
The 75-year-old Loftsson, who’s the final business hunter of fin whales on the earth, advised that avid marine conservationists who’ve an issue along with his exploitative business ought to “simply flip round and look the opposite method.”
Iceland vacationers have an opportunity see fin whales, the second largest animals on the planet, however they have an inclination to want deeper waters far offshore.
Even if an estimated 40,000 stay within the North Atlantic, fin whales are listed as endangered by the IUCN. However regardless of worldwide strain, most Iceland locals don’t have any difficulty with the hunt.
The waters off Iceland’s coast are additionally house to the most important animal identified to have ever existed, the Blue Whale.
Rising as much as 98 ft lengthy and 173 tons, these mild giants have been virtually hunted to extinction within the nineteenth and early twentieth century and stay endangered at present.
With two teams within the North Atlantic, a visit to Iceland provides a good likelihood to see them.
Humpbacks, Minkies & Sperm Whale
Different generally seen whales in Iceland embody the Humpback, essentially the most energetic and acrobatic species, whose breaching and different floor behaviors make them main crowd-pleasers.
The Minke whale is the second smallest of all baleen whales, measuring simply 23 to 26 ft lengthy and weighing a mean of 4 to 6 tons, with a white band on every flipper.
And the sperm whale on the earth’s largest toothed predator, made well-known by the Herman Melville basic Moby Dick.
One of the best time for whale-watching in Iceland is the hotter months, from April/Could via late September and early October.
However as the consequences of international warming develop, alternatives to see whales off the shores of the nation’s southern coast are bettering even within the late winter months. –by Bret Love