By far, the most incredible wildlife we saw in Antarctica were the whales. There were two species active while we were there, Humpbacks and Minkes, and they showed up nearly every day. It was hit-or-miss getting photos of these leviathans, and once spotted you pretty much had to guess where they would surface next.


At this time of the year the whales are wrapping up a summer of constant eating that will double their weight before heading north to warmer water. Minkes are smaller than humpbacks, averaging 25' or so in length. Humpbacks are nearly twice that and sport knobby heads.


Three senses came into play spotting whales. Usually you would hear the whale before seeing it as they surface, exhale, take a breath, and dive. We found Minke breath to be most foul, and sometimes your nose would point you in the right direction, and other times a dorsal fin would be glimpsed and all Zodiacs would converge on a general area. Often the whale was as curious about us as we were about them and would make multiple passes back and forth under our drifting boats, no more than a couple of feet below the surface at times.

Humpback Head.jpg

Humpbacks often flash their tail flukes when diving and will poke their heads above the water to see what's happening on the surface. Each Humpback's fluke is unique, much as a human's fingerprint, and the patterns are used to identify specific whales.

Minke Face.jpg