Orcas. Photo: Aqqa Rosing-Asvid
Spotting a whale is high on most people’s wish list
Text: Mads Nordlund, greenland today July 2013
There are 15 known species of whales in Greenland, who is particularly seen in the summer.
Most common are humpback whales, minke whales and fin whales.
Not so common are blue whales, orcas, narwhales, beluga whales, sperm whales, long finned pilot whales and bowhead whales.
Sea mammals
Since whales are sea mammals, they have to surface to breathe. First, they blow a high fountain to clear the water, that is called a spout.
Often you hear the sound before you discover the whale. The whale usually needs to take several breaths before it dives again, which gives time to enjoy the sight.
Humpback whale. Photo: Julie Skotte
Most seen
The most popular whale is the humpback whale, which is known for presenting its tail when it dives.
It grows up to 18 metres in length and can weigh 30 tons. The white markings on the fluke are as unique as fingerprints and can be used to recognize humpback whales year after year.
Minke whales only grow to about 10 metres in length and weigh a maximum of 10 tons. They are very common and are therefore often seen when you sail in Greenland.
Beluga whales. Photo: Uri Golman
The giants
Only the male sperm whales visit Greenland. They can measure 18 metres in length and weigh 50 tons.
The fin whale, with its 27 metres can weigh 100 tons, and is found mainly in North Greenland.
The blue whale is absolutely the biggest whale with a length of 33 metres, and a weight between 100 to 190 tons.
Winter whales
In the winter in Greenland, you usually only see bowhead whales, narwhales and beluga whales.
The bowhead whale is an Arctic whale which can live for 200 years, weigh 90 tons and measure a total of 20 metres in length.
Narwhales are mainly known for their characteristic tusk, which in male individuals can grow to a length of three metres. It grows to five metres in length and can weigh 1600 kg.
Beluga whales are similar to narwhales without the tusk. They measure 5 metres in length and weigh 1500 kg. Beluga whales are often seen in smaller groups, although groups of several hundred whales have been observed.
One of »The Big Arctic Five«
Visit Greenland puts the whales on the list of the five best reasons to visit Greenland – also called the »Big Arctic Five«. The other four are the inland ice, dog-sledding, the northern lights and the people of Greenland.

Read the full article from the magazine here Hvalisigte_DK_UK

Fin whale. Photo: Aqqa Rosing-Asvid