A recap from the Whale Museum’s history: 1998

 On June 17th 1998 the museum moved in a 200 m2 area in a old baiting shed by the harbor called „Verbúðir“. In the next years the museum gained more popularity as it dwelled in a good relationship with the neighbours who were mostly fish baiting workers.

The Whale Museum’s home from 1998-2002 was on the upper floor of „Verbúðir“, old baiting sheds which were still serving its original purpose on the lower floor.
Þorvaldur Björnsson from the Icelandic Institute of Natural History making the bones ready for the exhibitions.
The number of skeletons increased bit by bit over the years. The Killer Whale was added in 2001.
Ásbjörn Björgvinsson, the Whale Museum’s managing director from 1997-2008 on the grand opening of the museum’s new home in 1998.

Ágrip úr sögu Hvalasafnsins: 1998

Þann 17. júní Árið 1998 flutti safnið í um 200 m2 rými á efri hæð “Verbúðanna” við höfnina undir nafninu “Hvalamiðstöðin á Húsavík”. Gestafjöldi óx jafnt og þétt og samhliða því þörfin fyrir stærra húsnæði sem hentaði starfsemi safnsins betur.

Verbúðirnar á Húsavík urðu heimili Hvalamiðstöðvarinnar árið 1998 og gegndu því hlutverki næstu árin
Þorvaldur Björnsson frá Náttúrufræðistofnun Íslands vinnur hér að hreinsun hvalbeina til uppsetningar á sýningu
Svipmyndir af safninu
Ásbjörn Björgvinsson við vígslu Hvalamiðstöðvarinnar í Verbúðunum

A recap from the whale museum’s history: 1992-1995

The Húsavík Whale Museum opened an anniversary exhibition in May 2019 to celebrate its 20th anniversary.

In the next weeks, some parts of the museum’s story will be reveiled here on the museum blog. We begin our journey in 1992 because as in all good stories there is always a preface behind it.

The origin of the Húsavík whale museum can be traced to whale watching tours that were operated in Höfn from 1992-1994 on the initiative of Discover the World. In the first trip were a british guide Mark Carwardine and Ásbjörn Björgvinsson which would later establish the Húsavík whale museum. The tours took about 8 hours. In 1994 scheduled whale watching tours in Húsavík were operated for the first time by the company Sjóferðir Arnars. In the following year a few groups arrived to Húsavik for whale watching, f.e. from Discover the World. Whale sightings had decreased in Höfn at the time but Húsavík which was known as an old minke whaling area had also its advantages for a whole lot shorter distances than the tours in Höfn‘s area. In 1995 a whale watching course was held in Keflavík where foreign speakers gave an inside knowledge about whale watching as a phenomenon. One of the speakers was Erich Hoyt. By the summer of 1995 two whale watching companies, North Sailing and Sjóferðir Arnars were opertaring from Húsavík harbor on a daily basis.

Mark Carwardine with the Húsavík Whale Museum’s former project manager Huld Hafliðadóttir.
Erich Hoyt has been connected with the icelandic whale watching industry since its establishment. His latest visit to Iceland in 2019 included a talk at the Whale Museum’s Whale Congress.
A humpback whale takes a dive in the early years of icelandic whale watching.

End of whale watching season 2019

Last Saturday was the final day of a 9 month long whale watching season in Húsasvík. Both Gentle Giants and North Sailing departed for their 30th and final tour of November but as a consequence of especially good weather in November, whale watching has been available every single day. According to recent update of Gentle Giants November 2019 was a month to remember. The bay was really active, with passengers gazing at as much as 30 humpback whales in the same tour as well as other species!

The Húsavík Whale Museum enjoyed a visit of over 31 thousand guests this season, a similar number of guests as in 2018. The museum was open every to from April 1st to October 31st. From November 1st and until March 31st the opening hours will be 10-16 on weekdays.

The museum’s employees are currently doing typical winter projects in maintenance, collection cataloguing, exhibition updates etc. etc.

Photo by: Christian Schmidt

White beaked dolphin – An introduction

Dear reader,

Whalecome at the introduction of the whales of Skjálfandi bay part 4. After the blue whale, the porpoise and the minke whale lets introduce the white-beaked dolphin!

Latin name: Lagenorhynchus albirostris       
Common name: White-beaked dolphin       
Icelandic name:          
Average life span: 30 – 40 years old
Diet: Fish, crustaceans and cephalopods    
Size: 3.1 meters          
Weight: 180-350kg

White-beaked dolphins are endemic to the North Atlantic ocean. They can only be found from the north east coast of America and the north west of Europe up to Spitsbergen. White-beaked dolphins are very social, they live in groups called pods from 5 to 50 dolphins, during certain social aggregations these pods can contain over 100 or even 1000 dolphins. White-beaked dolphins are also known to have all male pods called ´alliances´ and all female pods called ´parties´. They are fast swimmers they can reach speeds of 45km/h. When they are travelling at speed they sometimes jump.
White-beaked dolphins reach sexual maturity round the age of 7, breeding season is from May through September. The gestation period is 11 months, when the calves are born they are 1 meter long and weigh 40kg.

Young white-beaked dolphins love to play in the wake of boats and larger whales. They like it so much that they can even harass whales to swim faster so they can play in the wake.           
Each dolphin has a slightly different tone range, from which other dolphins can understand who said something through clicks and whistles.

White-beaked dolphins stay in Skjálfandi bay throughout the year. During the summer months it is possible to see mother and calf pairs.

Increase in July’s visitor numbers

The number of visitors in the Húsavík Whale Museum were close to 10 thousand in July. That’s an increase from 2018 and a little bit more than in the same month in 2017. Germans, Americans and French are the most frequent visitors.

This year’s increase of visitors to the museum in July is a very positive and even surprising news. In the aftermath of WOW Air’s collapse earlier this year, a number of forecasts assumed decreation of tourists in Iceland – especially outside the Reykjavík area. With that in mind, any news in the opposite direction is something to cheer about even though the visitor numbers of the Húsavík Whale Museum can’t be transferred to the overall numbers.

Gestafjöldi í júlí fram úr væntingum

Gestir Hvalasafnsins á Húsavík í júlí 2019 voru tæpir 10 þúsund talsins. Það er fjölgun upp á rúm 11% frá árinu 2018 og ívið fleiri en heimsóttu safnið í júlí 2017. Þjóðverjar og Bandaríkjamenn eru áfram fjölmennir sem hlutfall af heildargestafjölda en þá hefur einnig verið góð aðsókn frá mörgum Mið-Evrópuríkjum, ekki síst Frakklandi.

Þessi fjölgun gesta á háannatímanum verður að teljast afar ánægjuleg og jafnvel óvænt tíðindi fyrir Hvalasafnið. Í kjölfar tíðinda um fall WOW Air síðastliðið vor þótti líklegt að mikil fækkun yrði á komum ferðamanna til landsins og myndi það koma illilega niður á landsbyggðinni. Það er því afar gleðilegt að upplifa vísi af því að ferðamönnum fækki ekki, enda þótt ekki sé hægt að heimfæra gestafjölda Hvalasafnsins yfir á heildarfjölda ferðamanna sem heimsækja Norðurland.

Successful whale watching season in Húsavík

Today is August 1st. The Icelandic tourism season is at its peak point. Currently there‘s a mind-blowing 22 degrees celcius in Húsavík (for locals that‘s extremely warm) and the town is therefore very much alive. June was quite cold in Húsavík and the first part of July as well. The number of tourists have matched expectation for most parts though. The whale watching season in Húsavík have been very successful whith a usual sightings of humpack whales, blue whales, minke whales, white beaked dolphins and harbour porpoises, the killer whale has also been spotted on a more regular occasion than usual.

The Húsavík Whale Museum is open every day in August from 8:30-18:30. Tickets can now be bought via our webpage.

Photo by: Christian Schmidt