1. Iceland
  2. West Iceland
  3. Observe the seals at Ytri Tunga Beach
Written by Sandrine Published on 03/03/17

If you are planning to discover the Snaefellsnes Peninsula, add this step to your program! Why? Why? The sandy beaches of the southern peninsula are an ideal refuge for seals that come to rest on the large scattered rocks. Seals settle there all year round, but the months of June or July are more conducive to their observation. You will have a good chance to see the mammals sleeping in the sun!

Seal on a rock
If you're lucky, you'll be able to observe seals in complete peace of mind.

1Access to Ytri Tunga Beach

The most famous observation spot on the Snaefellsnes peninsula is Ytri Tunga beach. You can reach it from Route 54 via a small road that ends in a car park. Attention, the road is only indicated at the very last moment.

Once you arrive at the car park, signs will give you some indications on the different types of seals you can see. The most common are grey seals and calf seals, but there are also other species.

2Grey Seals and Sea Veal

Grey seals are the most numerous. To recognize them, you have to look at their heads in profile. The grey seal has a large head with an elongated snout, forming an almost straight line from the forehead to the end of the nostrils.

Sea calf seals are less common in Iceland, but prefer sandy beaches. Its head is almost round, its muzzle is short compared to that of the grey seal, and the detachment between its forehead and muzzle is more pronounced. If you spot its nostrils, they have the peculiarity of being in the shape of a "V".

Well, that's in theory, because when I look at the seal pictures we took, I can't recognize the species;)

3Seal watching

Once you arrive on the sandy and grassy shores, scan the horizon to try to catch a glimpse of the seals. They may not be immediately visible because they can be positioned far enough from the shore or on the sides. In this case, choose to turn east or west, letting yourself be guided by luck.

That day, we were more inspired to go east (to our left looking towards the ocean). We then start a short walk on the beach for a few hundred meters when we spot several seals in the rocks. There are 5 of them. At first we didn't notice them because their fur was confused with seaweed on the rocks.

Seal on a rock
The seal barely breaks away from the rocks.

Fortunately, the tide was low enough to allow us to get close enough to observe them.

To see the seals, carry a pair of binoculars with you.

We jump from rock to rock to avoid getting our feet wet. Be careful because some of them are very slippery, especially if they are covered with algae (which still made me get a foot in the water!). After a few acrobatics, we are now close enough to observe them without disturbing them. In total silence, we watch them waving slowly. We remain long minutes so to observe them, we are the only ones on the beach. I don't know if they spotted us, but they didn't seem to be disturbed!

Seal on a rock
They don't seem to be bothered at all by our presence, but we have kept a good distance.
Seal at tri Tunga
Another type of seal, this one seems different from the others.

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