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Orca Watching in Skjervøy

Skjervøy kommune, Norway


Added by Cat Ekkelboom-White

Get close to these amazing creatures in incredible surroundings

There's only a short window of opportunity every winter between November and mid-December in northern Norway to go out into the fjords and see orcas out hunting with their young calves.

The orcas come into the fjords to hunt the herring during this short window in the deep winter. The used to hunt further south around the area of Andenes, but in the last few years, as the herring have moved north, so have the orcas. Which means, if you want to get close to these incredible creatures, you'll have to make a bit of a trip.

There are just a couple of companies operating orca watching and snorkeling trips, both out of a small fishing town called Skjervøy, which is about 160km north of Tromsø (about 4/5 hours drive).

The boats only go out once a day, and everything is subject to weather, and of course whether you find the whales. I highly recommend planning in 2-3 nights in the area so that if the weather is bad and they need to cancel your boat, you can re-book onto another boat and you've got a couple of days contingency. Otherwise you've driven 4 hours north for nothing if you can't go out on the water.

Originally we were booked to go snorkeling (yes, in the freezing arctic waters), but the water was too choppy so it was cancelled and we were offered whale watching instead, so we decided to go, and we loved it. 

The crossing over the open water to the calm water of the fjords was a bit stormy, but once we reached the fjords, we went outside onto the decks and started to search for the orcas. The onboard researchers explained about the whales and how they were spending the winter with the crew studying the resident pods and their behaviors which was fascinating to learn.

Even without spotting any orcas, the blue and purple glow of the fjords in the winter light was magnificent, but what made it even more incredible was a number of orcas with their young calves who swam really close to the boat as it sat idle with it's engines off, just floating peacefully in the water.

The experience was absolutely surreal and magical, and something I would recommend for anyone.

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