Wildlife of Iceland
The wildlife in Iceland rich of birds and marine mammals but the only land mammal living in Iceland before us humans came was the Arctic fox. Iceland is surrounded by the cool rich north- atlantic ocean. A warm oceanic current, the Gulf stream, sends a steady supply of warm water up past Iceland making it warmer than would otherwise be expected from a land at this latitude. The coastal waters of Iceland play a key role in making Iceland so rich in bird and marine mammals.
Given that almost 11% of Iceland is covered with glaciers and over 60% are lava fields or deserts, mammals in Iceland are not many. The only original terresrial mammal in Iceland is the Arctic fox. All the other mammals there today have been brought there by man, knowingly or inadvertently. Among these are two species of mice, Reindeer and the American mink, all of which can now be considered a part of the Icelandic enviroment.
Marine mammals are however many in Icelandic coastal waters and many species of whales are spotted in the waters around Iceland. The cool, clear North Atlantic encircling Iceland is rich with food for whales of various sizes and species. Most common are Minke Whales and White Beaconed Dolphins but Killer Whales are also frequently seen and if you are lucky you can see the huge Humpback whales, waving their flukes and sometimes leaping, a memory that it will leave you breathless. Sperm Whales are rarely spotted and Pilot Whales only at times. Iceland´s vast and uninhabited coast still offers many inaccessible areas which offer sanctuary for the two species of seals which bear they´re pups in Iceland. The Harbor seal being more common than the Grey seal, is still counted in tens of thousands. All the other seal species frequenting the arctic, can be found along the shore, frome time to time, even though visits from some are considered a rarety.
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As Iceland is a relatively small island in the middle of the North Atlantic, it has only 73 breeding species. Of these, only 10 are passerines (including House Sparrow which breeds at only one site). On the other hand most breeding species are very numerous and are easily seen everywhere around the country. For example, the most numerous bird in Iceland is the Atlantic Puffin there being some three million pairs (one colony of 15,000 pairs is visible from the capital, Reykjavík)!