Summer
Whale Safari

Full day whale safari – every day
from June 1st to August 31st in Stø, Vesterålen

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Whale, bird and seal watching combined in one full day adventure!

With whale guarantee!

1st of June - 31st of August

Location: Stø in Vesterålen
Departure:
10:00, please be at our reception no later than 45 minutes before departure
Duration:
 The trips typically last 6-8 hours although this may vary depending on weather conditions or other unforeseen circumstances.
Guiding:
 You will be accompanied by our qualified nature guides during the whole tour. Our guides have firsthand knowledge about the marine wildlife of this area.

Please note: Departure times may be subject to last minute changes due to weather conditions or passenger demand. Full terms and conditions below.

Before the tour:

Please be at the reception in Stø Harbour no later than 45 minutes before departure. The safari begins with a presentation where one of our guides will inform you about the tour, safety on-board and the animals we can expect to encounter.

The whale area, Bleik Canyon

We head towards the underwater canyon of Bleik, in search of the highlight of the whale watching tour - the sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus). On the way offshore, we regularly encounter different whale species inhabiting these waters, for example:

  • Pilot whale (Globicephala melas)
  • Minke whale (Balaenoptera acutorostrata)
  • Orca or killer whale (Orcinus orca)
  • Humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae)
  • Atlantic white-sided dolphin (Lagenorhynchus acutus)
  • Harbour porpoise (Phocoean phocoena)

Each safari is different, which makes the experience even more exciting! When we set out from the harbour, we never know exactly what kind of whales wait for us on that particular da

Return to Stø:

On the way back, we will serve you a hot meal: our delicious fish soup or vegetarian soup with bread. The soups contain local supplies and self-collected herbs. You can enjoy the boat ride and magnificent landscapes while summing up the experiences of the safari with our friendly crew.

The last stop on our whale safari is the island Anda. Here we will take you close to the bird cliffs, which are home to thousands of seabirds. About 30000 puffins inhabit the island every summer from mid April to mid August. We will also go close to the flat rocks north of the island to see if we find harbour seals resting on the rocks. Some of the bird species you can expect to see are:

  • White-tailed Eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla)
  • Atlantic Puffin (Fratercula arctica)
  • Cormorant and European shag (Phalacrocorax carbo and Phalacrocorax sinensis)
  • Kittiwake (Rissa tridactyla)
  • Common guillemot (Uria aalge)
  • Razorbill (Alca torda)

Our safari success rate is around 95 %, but occasionally, it happens that we fail to spot any whales (we are dealing with nature and wildlife, after all). For such rare days, we have a whale guarantee: If we do not see whales, guests who are interested can join on another safari free of charge. In this case, please contact reception after the trip and we will rebook you.

Rates

Adults: NOK 1300,-

Student/65+: NOK 1200,-

Children 2-4yr: NOK 300,-

Children 5-15yr: NOK 650,-

Children 0-1yr: FOC with 2 accompanying adults

Dogs

We warmly welcome dogs on board with us. Since some of the guests may be allergic to them, human's best friends are not allowed indoors. No extra charge will be taken for dogs. We love having your furry friends onboard with us, but your dog is fully your responsibility. You may also contact our reception (info@arcticwhaletours.com) for more information.

Ask us about group rates!

Our rates include the following

  • Full day whale watching tour combined with bird and seal watching
  • Multilingual naturalist guide for the duration of the safari
  • Fish soup or vegan soup made of local products
  • Coffee, tea & biscuits

‍Important information

What to bring:

  • We have seating indoors, but it's always good idea to bring warm clothes, footwear, hat and gloves! It is cold out at sea!
  • Waterproof clothes in case of rainy days
  • Sunglasses and sun lotion
  • Binoculars
  • Camera, extra memory card and battery
  • Bottle of water, any snacks you might like
  • A smile and a sense of adventure! It is a full day ocean safari!

Arctic Whale Tours terms and conditions

  • Confirm your booking latest the day before the scheduled departure
  • Any cancellations by a customer at least 24 hours in advance will receive a full refund. If cancellation is made less than 24 hours in advance, no refund will be given.
  • Check in begins an hour before departure
  • All passengers need to be at the reception no later than 45 minutes before departure
  • Tours are weather dependent and can be cancelled due to strong wind or low visibility
  • Minimum number of passengers: 15 (We reserve the right to cancel a departure if there are less than 15 persons on the tour.)
  • We reserve the right to cancel a trip at any point prior to scheduled departure due to unforeseen weather, or other, circumstances. In case we cancel a trip, the customer will receive a full refund.
  • Any cancellations by Arctic Whale Tours will be notified via email and/or text message
  • Payment either in full online through our booking system, or on the morning of your trip for email/phone bookings
  • Length of safari: in average 6-8 hours although this can vary depending on weather conditions or other unforeseen circumstances
  • Prices include local taxes
  • Trip duration may vary due to weather conditions, and/or location of the whales, therefore Arctic Whale Tours hold no liability for any inconvenience this may cause

The Boat

Our boat Blasius II is a 22-metre, twin-engine catamaran. A spacious deck, and a warm indoor lounge with seating make it a great vessel for whale watching.

Picture of our boat.

The whales

Sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus)

Spermacetthval, kaskelotti, Potwal, cachalote
Conservation status: Vulnerable

The sperm whale is the world’s largest toothed whale, and the world’s largest predator. They are a deep diving mammal, that can reach depths of over 2000 metres on their dives. Our destination on our safaris, Bleik Canyon, is one of most important sperm whale feeding areas in Northern Europe. It’s closeness to the mainland offers a world-class opportunity to see these mysterious giants of the ocean. Sperm whales hunt squid and deep-sea fish using echolocation. All the sperm whales here in the north are males. The females inhabit warmer waters in the tropics and subtropics (for example waters off The Azores, The Caribbean and Sri Lanka). Females live in stable social groups with their fellow adult females and calves. Males on the other hand, are solitary. Juvenile males sometimes do form “bachelor groups”, but as they mature, they prefer a more solitary life.

Size: males 15-19 metres, 40-50 tonnes
Females: 10-11 metres, 13-15 tonnes

Killer whale (Orcinus orca)

Spekkhogger, miekkavalas, Schwertwal,

Conservation status: Data deficient

The killer whale, or orca, is a toothed whale, and the largest member of the dolphin family. Killer whales live in tight family groups, with the oldest female being the matriarch and leader. Their diet consists of fish and some groups are also specialised in hunting other marine mammals (eg. whales and seals). Killer whales are found in all of the world’s oceans. In Norway, the best time to see killer whales is in winter, when they follow the spring-spawning herring into the fjords in Northern Norway. We see them regularly in the summer too, but as they travel long distances in the summer in search for food, seeing them is more down to luck than in winter.

Size: males 6-8 metres, 6000kg
Females 5-7  metres, 4000kg

Long-finned pilot whale (Globicehpala melas)

Grindhval, pitkäeväpallopäävalas, Grindwal,
Conservation status:

Pilot whales are the second-largest member in the dolphin family. They live in tight social groups, size ranging from a few individuals to super pods of thousands of animals. Most often they are seen in groups of 20-150 individuals.

Size: males up to 7 metres, up to 2300kg
Females up to 6 metres, up to 1300kg

Common minke whale (Balaenoptera acutorostrata)

Vågehval, lahtivalas, Zwergwal
Conservation status: Least concern

The common minke whale is the second smallest species of baleen whales. They primarily feed on fish and crustaceans. They normally do not show their fluke when diving, and are seen singly, or in small groups of few individuals. There are more than 100000 minke whales in the waters off Norway. They are the only whale species being hunted in Norway, with a quota of 1278 whales in 2020. Altogether, 429 individuals were caught in 2020.

Size: 7-10 metres, 6000-9000kg

Humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae)

Knølhval, ryhävalas, Buckelwal
Conservation status: Least concern

Humpback whales are baleen whales, and known for their long pectoral fins (which can be up to 6 metres long!) and beautiful song the males sing to attract females. Humpback whales are also known for their active behaviour on the surface, with breaching, and fin and tail slapping. They are an infrequent summer visitor to the waters off Vesterålen, and always a special treat to see. The best time to see humpback whales in action is in the winter, when they congregate in the fjords in Northern Norway to feed on spring-spawning herring.

Size: males 13-14 metres, up to 35 tonnes
Females: 15-16 metres, up to 40 tonnes

Fin whale (Balaenoptera physalus)

Finnhval, sillivalas, finnwal
Conservation status: Vulnerable

The fin whale is a baleen whale, and the second largest animal on earth (after the blue whale). They are found in all of the world’s oceans, but are most common in temperate and cool regions. For us in Vesterålen, they are a special treat to see. They often travel singly or in small groups, rarely showing their fluke when they dive.

Size:18-22 metres, 39-62 tonnes

Atlantic white-sided dolphin (Lagenorhynchus acutus)

Kvitskjeving, valkokuvedelfiini, Weißseitendelfin
Conservation status: Least concern

Atlantic white-sided dolphin are found across the North Atlantic region.

Size: 2.5-3 metres, 180-230kg

White-beaked dolphin (Lagenorhynchus albirostris)

Kvitnos, valkokuonodelfiina, Weißschnauzendelfin
Conservation status: Least concern

White-beaked dolphins are found across the North Atlantic region. It can be misidentified as the Atlantic white-sided dolphin, but is generally found further north, and lacks yellow streaks on its side.

Size: 2-3 metres, 180-350kg

Harbour porpoise (Phocoena phocoena)

Nise, pyöriäinen, Gewöhnlicher Schweinswal
Conservation status: Least concern

The harbour porpoise is one of the smallest marine mammals. They inhabit coastal waters in the Northern Hemisphere. Their global population size is about 700 000, with about 460 000 in habiting the water from Gibraltar to Vestfjorden, Norway. They can often be seen in the fjords and bays from the shore. If you see a small, dark, triangle-shaped fin breaking the water, it’s most likely a harbour porpoise!

Other wildlife

Atlantic puffin (Fratercula arctica)

Lundefugl, lunni, Papageitaucher
Conservation status: Vulnerable

The Atlantic puffin is a small seabird in the auk family. They migrate to Northern Norway in for the summer to breed in big colonies. They arrive in mid-April, and leave in mid-August after raising a single chick over the summer. Puffins can fly up to 80kmph, and dive down to 60 metres. There is a big breeding colony of puffins at Anda Nature Reserve, only 3km off Stø. We make a stop off the cliffs of Anda to have a look at the plethora of seabirds, including puffins, that call Anda home in the summer.

White-tailed eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla)

Havørn, merikotka, Seeadler

The white-tailed eagle is the largest bird of prey found in Europe. Their wingspan can reach 2.5 metres. Most often we see white-tailed eagles on Anda, and you can also see them soaring above the mountains on the coastline as well.

Northern fulmar (Fulmarus glacialis)

Havhest, myrskylintu, Eissturmvogel

Fulmars are a regular visitor to our boat when we get out to the open sea. They live most of their lives out in the open sea, only returning to land to breed. They are a tube-nosed bird, the same order as the albatrosses and petrels.

Northern gannet (Morus bassanus)

Havsule, suula, Basstölpel
Conservation status: Least concern

The northern gannet is a large sea bird, with a wing span up to 180cm. The adults have beautiful bright white wings and yellow head. Juveniles are brown, and get whiter as they age. Gannets are known for plunge-diving when feeding, and are well-adapted to diving.

Harbour seal (Phoca vitulina)

Steinkobbe, kirjohylje, Seehund
Conservation status: Least concern

Harbour seals are found across the temperate and arctic coastal waters in the Northern Hemisphere. There are some colonies around Stø in the rocky outcrops, and we often see harbour seals resting on the rocks at Anda as well.

These are just a few examples of the rich wildlife that is found in our region! Our crew will give you first-hand knowledge of the plethora of wildlife we get to see on the safari!

Whale watching guidelines

In Stø, we have the privilege of living and working amongst the most magnificent wildlife found in Norway. This also gives us an opportunity to provide our visitors with quality whale watching experiences. However, these opportunities are associated with the responsibility to ensure the welfare of the animals at all times. We have therefore, in close collaboration with WDCS (The Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society), established whale watching guidelines to assure best practices for our whale watching. The aims of these guidelines are to minimize the impacts on the animals and for our trained naturalists to inform our visitors about the appropriate ways of interacting with marine mammals.

General

  • The whales should always be able to control the nature and duration of their contact with us
  • If whales seem distressed, we leave them alone and slowly depart from the area
  • Mothers with calves, or resting, feeding and/or socialising whales area approached and viewed with extra care and consideration, or left alone
  • In addition to the captain, we always have at least one dedicated observer on duty at all times
  • We never attempt to swim, snorkel, touch or feed whales for our safety and theirs.

Approaching whales

  • We approach the whales from the rear, slightly to the side of the animals
  • We reduce the vessel speed at a 300 – 400 m distance from the whales
  • We never block their path but instead ensure that they always have an escape route.

Viewing whales

  • We stay at a distance of minimum 50 – 100 m from the whales
  • We keep a parallel course with the whales
  • We keep all noise to a minimum and avoid sudden changes in speed or direction
  • When encountering groups of dolphins, we limit our active viewing to ca 15 minutes
  • When encountering sperm whales, we do not stay with the animal for more than one dive.

Signs of disturbance in whales

  • Attempts to leave the area or move away from the boat
  • Sudden or regular changes in swimming speed and/or direction
  • Sudden dives, or shallow dives to gain distance from the boat
  • Aggressive behaviour, e.g. tail splashing, flipper slapping, etc.
  • Increased breathing rate
  • Increased diving duration.

Allowing whales to interact with us

The guidelines presented here refer to our active approach towards the whales. Sometimes whales are curious about us and approach our boat. In these situations, we maintain our course with slow steady speed or let the engine run in neutral.

Whale guarantee

Whenever we set out to the sea, we always expect to see whales. However, as our product is based on the nature, it does sometimes happen that we do not succeed. For such rare occasions, we have our whale guarantee: In the unlikely event that we would not be able to see any cetaceans (includes all whale and dolphin species), passengers can join another available whale safari, free of charge. In this case, the guests need to contact the reception and we will do a re-booking for them.

Partners

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