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100 Bowhead Whales near Qeqertarsuaq, West Greenland

by Christian Engelke Blog

Antarctic Peninsula

Ship: s/v Rembrandt van Rijn

Regions: Arctic

Destinations: Greenland

Highlights: Bowhead Whale

100 Bowhead Whales near Qeqertarsuaq, West Greenland

Today – May14, 2016 - we were sailing with the Rembrandt van Rijn towards Qeqertarsuaq; certainly in the hope of seeing a couple of whales. We know that these waters are nutrient rich and thus hoped that our Greenland cruise would have the possibility of seeing a few Humpback whales or even Greenland whales (Bowhead whales) off the coast of Disko Island.

Bowhead whale in Western Greenland 


As we were heading closer to the settlement we soon saw a couple of whale blows and could verify the typical shape of the elusive Bowhead whales. We were all super excited as these whales are really rare and most of us had never seen one before. What was to come, nobody of us was aware of, though.

Horizon filled with Bowhead whale blows

Soon the whole horizon in all directions was filled with blows. Our guides estimated first 50 and later at least 100+ Bowhead whales in the area. The sheer amount of these massive 100 ton whales just stunned us. Seeing them from our small 300 gross ton sailing vessel, the Rembrandt van Rijn, just added to the feeling.

The scenery of wonderful shaped and huge icebergs fitted to the sighting of these highly polar animals. Our guides jumped from one side of the vessel to the other, as excited as us. Whales were constantly spotted on all sides of the ship. They seemed to be feeding in the area, but we also saw some resting behavior and even one whale repeatedly breaching, meaning lifting two thirds of his great body out of the water.

Whale watching in Qeqertarsuaq

This went on for hours until we decided to go alongside in the settlement Qeqertarsuaq where some of us went on an after dinner walk to a viewpoint outside the village. Out here we spent another hour watching the massive animals close to shore in the beautiful evening light. Some of the Bowhead whales were just passing in front of us, and we could hear the sounds of their blows filling the air. What an end to an exciting day…

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