Whale Watching in Antarctica

A humpback whale swimming away…

Lunch buffet at the Sea Spirit cruise was excellent – Mac n Cheese was delish, meat stuffed cabbage was also a hit. What better way to top off a meal than eat a Grand Marnier Crème Brulee!

I haven’t been able to sleep well on this trip; well not continuously for 8 hours. I wake up several times in the middle of the night (probably because of my pregnancy), and the trip has been physically exhausting. After a sumptuous lunch that day, all I wanted to do was to hit the sack, but I pushed myself to do all the Antarctica landings planned.

While lazily lying down in our cabin, we heard an announcement from our expedition leader. The original plan was to do a zodiac cruise around Enterprise Island, but another cruise ship beat us to this location, so we had to change plans in the last minute. Our expedition leader decided that we stop at Wilhelmina Bay for the zodiac cruise.

Enterprise Island in Wilhelmina Bay has the partially submerged wreck of the whaling ship Guvernøren near Foyn Harbour. The 3433 ton ship caught fire in 1915 and was run aground in order to rescue men and supplies. There were no fatalities. The bay is a choice feeding place for whales and therefore was a choice hunting ground for whalers. As Shackleton was marching his men across the ice of the Weddell Sea, his final destination was to be Wilhelmina Bay where he anticipated whalers could be found for rescue.

While getting dressed up to board the zodiac, I looked outside our cabin window and it was snowing a bit, and the dense fog was hiding away the beautiful scenery around. I was skeptical about how we were going to be able to see anything at all during the zodiac cruise.

Amazing landscape passes us by on this cold gloomy afternoon…

Nevertheless, we jumped on the zodiacs and were off on our expedition. We passed by an ice sheet, sea ice from the winter season, and saw a handful of crabeater seals lazily sleeping it. When our boat slowed down by the ice sheet, the seals raised their heads up in curiosity, looked at us for a few seconds and went back to sleep.

Zodiacs start to disembark…
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Then our zodiac driver received communication from another zodiac cruise about sighting of whales, not too far away from where we were. Without wasting a second, we zipped through to go see those whales.

Seals looking at us as we pass by…

From far away, we saw a couple of humpback whales swimming in and out of the water displaying multiple flukes. Then we saw more whales on another side of our zodiac. And then many more. At one point of time, we were surrounded on all sides by the massive humpback whales!

Humpback whales all around us…

The highlight of the moment was when three whales jumped into the water, just a few feet away from our zodiac. In a few seconds, we saw water bubbles “too close” to our zodiac. The whales were there, right there, ready to come out any moment now. Honestly, all of us freaked out. I immediately took out my cell phone and started recording. This was either going to be my last video I’d ever record, or one of the best. Fortunately, it turned out to be the latter.

Within a few seconds, the massive whales swam out of the water and did a beautiful fluke for us, hardly 15 feet away. The body of the whale was ginormous, and just incredible. We’ve had so many opportunities to watch whales in the wild, but this is the closest I’ve ever seen a whale.

A fluke right next to us…

This moment, this one moment was enough to put a satiated smile on all our faces. Throughout the rest of the cruise that afternoon, we saw multitude of whales, and this day turned out to be one of the memorable parts of our trip!

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