Day 29-32 of 68 – Antarctica – Part 3 Whales

February 6, 2018 Paul Groves

It is hard to photograph whales because you very seldom see their whole bodies. In fact Ron never did see a full body during this trip. Paul, however, happened to be looking in exactly the right spot at the right time and watched a humpback whale rise out of the water showing about 2/3rds of his (her) body. This is called breaching. We were privileged to see two different types of whales on this cruise: Orcas (killer whales) and Humpback.

Orcas (killer whales) – Apparently it is very rare to see these. A pod of six or seven swam in front of the ship for about 1/2 hour. They never did get really close.

Humpback – These were the most prolific of the whales that we saw and the most exciting. While the most we ever saw of these were their back and tails, they were still magnificent animals to watch. Most of the time they glided along the surface then slid gracefully underwater to feed. If they were diving deep, their tail was the last thing you saw of them for upwards of 1/2 an hour.

During the first 2 days of our Antarctica cruise we only sighted a random whale here and there around the ship. On the third day we saw two amazing things: sleeping whales (who knew?) and a whale feeding frenzy!

I personally have never given a thought to whales sleeping but here they were in Charlottes Bay… 5 or 6 whales, looking like floating logs.

Then we sailed to Hughes Bay. Immediately we saw multiple whale spouts. At one time or another there were upwards of 15 whales in the ship’s vicinity, most in clusters of three or four whales. They swam together, performing deep dives, and with a coordinated effort, “corralled” the krill (small aquatic animals; their food) and then breaking to the surface gathering huge mouthfuls of the krill and straining the krill as they surfaced. We watched this dance for at least 2 hours. Fascinating. After this we sailed away still sighting whales feeding an hour later. A terrific day!