July 13, 2017
One of the most life-affirming experiences of visiting the Antarctic is the immense pleasure of whale watching. Regardless of whether you’ve had the honour of viewing these majestic creatures in another part of the world, an Antarctica Cruise is unquestionably one of the best ways to marvel at the beauty of Whales, free and unhindered in their natural habitat. It is a very special experience! You can expect to see many species of Whales during your visit to the Antarctic, the most common of which we have outlined below.
WHALES YOU MAY SEE DURING YOUR ANTARCTICA CRUISE
These are the seven species of whales you may have the pleasure of spotting during an Antarctic cruise. They can be found throughout the season from December to April. However, the peak time when you have the best chance of seeing some of these incredible whales is February to March.
The Antarctic is a known feeding ground for humpback whales, so you are most likely to spot this species during your cruise. Spanning an incredible length of 40-50 feet and weighing up to 35-40 tonnes, humpback whales are well known for the way they breach the ocean surface and use their huge, powerful tail fins to splash the water. It almost looks like they are waving to you and it’s a truly breathtaking sight to see. Be sure to have your camera at the ready! Humpbacks are are also known for their striking and complex whale song, which carries for miles, so you may be lucky enough to hear these high-frequency melodic sounds during your Antarctica Cruise.
#Humpback Whales have a reputation for being #exhibitionists.
Minke whales are a rather sociable and inquisitive baleen species, so it is not unusual for them to approach boats to investigate. This makes them a really popular and fantastic species to watch. Measuring around 30-35 feet in length, minke whales are active swimmers and recognisable from their sleek profiles. They are a very common sight in the Antarctic, so there is a good chance of seeing minke whales during your Antarctica cruise.
#Minke #Whales patrolling the waters of the #Antarctic Peninsula.
Orcas (Killer Whales)
Orcas, commonly referred to as ‘Killer Whales’, are a toothed whale related to dolphins. They are around 30 feet in length and easily identifiable from their striking black and white colouring. Orcas live in large family pods with up to 40 members and they are a common sight in the Antarctic. They are one of the most formidable predators in the world, working in packs to hunt seals, penguins and sea lions. Surprisingly, they can be quite friendly and often connect with other species of smaller mammals who they know to frequent the same waters. However, a mammal of the same species that they are unfamiliar with can soon become prey.
#Killer #Whales are really members of the dolphin family.
Sei whales are one of the fastest species of whales, travelling at a speed of up to 50km (30 miles) per hour. They are dark grey or bluish-grey in colour, weighing about 20 tonnes and spanning a length of 14 to 20 metres. It is possible to see them during an Antarctic Cruise, but they are known to prefer warmer waters for breeding and giving birth to their calves, so they are more of a rare sight in Antarctica.
#Sei #Whale gets its name from the Norwegian word for Pollock.
Sperms Whales have grey or black skin and are recognisable from their large block-shaped heads. Male sperm whales, which weigh up to 63 tonnes, can be found in Antarctic waters, but it is very rare for females to frequent this area as they prefer warmer northern waters. They spend a great deal of time in the dark ocean depths searching for their favourite prey of giant squid. Sperm whales also have a very loud call, which is a bit like a clicking sound, and it is common for them to blow large projections of water from the front left side of their heads.
#Sperm #Whales can eat around 1 tonne of seafood per day.
Southern right whales are large baleen whales, between 45-55 feet in length and weighing up to 60 tonnes. They are generally dark grey/black in colouration and do not have dorsal fins, but are recognisable from their wide pectoral fins and raised patches of rough whitish skin (callosities) on their heads. Southern rights are known for being slower swimmers and earned their name during times when whales were more commonly hunted. They were seen as the ‘right’ whale to hunt because they swim slowly near the shoreline, have more blubber, and float to the surface when they die. The population of the southern right whale is improving, so it is becoming increasingly common to see them in Antarctic waters.
#Southern #Right #Whale distinguishable from the callosities on its head.
Weighing up to 200 tonnes, the blue whale is the largest mammal to have ever graced the earth (bigger than any known dinosaur!) and was once almost hunted to extinction. Although their numbers are recovering, they are still quite elusive, but it is possible to see one on an Antarctic cruise if you are lucky! They have an insatiable appetite, consuming 3-4% of their body weight in krill every day at the height of feeding season in Antarctica - for a 200 tonne blue whale, that’s 8 tonnes of food! They have mottled skin, which is light greyish-blue to dark grey when they breach the water, but underneath the surface their skin is a beautiful, luminous aqua blue.
Before whaling, there were 200,000 #Blue #Whales in the #Antarctic, now there’s 2,000.
Visit us at expeditionsonline.com for more information on travelling to the Antarctic on our Antarctica cruises to discover the wonderful wilderness and stunning wildlife for yourself.