Antarctica Safari - summary & highlights

Trip Start Dec 07, 2010
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Trip End Jan 14, 2011


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Flag of Argentina  , Patagonia,
Monday, January 10, 2011

Penguins galore, killer whales chasing penguins and beautiful shaped blue icebergs will be my memories of these wonderful first few days of 2011.

Here are about 140 initial photos and I am sure that I have other equally as good images to share later. Won’t say how many I took!

The penguins had their chicks in various stages of growth. From those just hatched to ones of several weeks old. The skuas flying and hovering just above the penguins trying to snatch an egg or young chick.

Look carefully in the orca (killer) whale photos for the poor penguin who was swimming like anything for its life. The GAP Expedition crew said that we were most fortunate in the several hours to experience several chases by the killer whales. In all of their many years on the ocean, it was also an unique time for them to see so many chases in such a short period of time. We were informed that the whales could be using it as a training exercise for their young ones. Julio, our GAP Expedition leader, announced the second and third chases as if it was a movie in various parts. Seeing the first chase and subsequent kill was really great but then to be followed up with 2 others and being so close to the boat was a real bonus. The penguin was trying to jump on board the boat for safety. Yes, we were all cheering on for the underdog penguin but eventually the orcas wore down the poor penguin. We held a minute’s silence for one of them.

If you look carefully at a photo of 5 whales, you can see the penguin just under the surface of the water (bottom left of centre of the photo). Another passenger took this same sequence and his winning image in the photo competition had the penguin out of the water.

There is also a photo of what I call the split moment just before the actual kill. You can see the head of the penguin and whale’s mouth right on the penguin’s tail as if they were one. Then another photo of the orca whale with the remains of the penguin in its mouth. Sorry folks but this is the ongoing nature at work.

I will also put up later video clips of part of one of the chases taken by another passenger to give you an even better appreciation of this afternoon’s experience.

We believe that the third penguin got away.

There were estimates of anywhere between 50 and 100 orcas whales in the strait. We also saw many humpbacks as well. Not as exciting as the orcas but still magnificent creatures to be cruising by and then occasionally showing its fluke (tail) as it dived.

The five times that we were able to go kayaking were superb - to be floating and paddling amongst those majestic shaped pieces of blue, white and black ice slowly melting forming amazing weird ice sculptures. The memories of being virtually alone with only 5 others paddling in the icy Antarctica’s waters amongst the penguins and seals in their natural habit will remain with me for a long time.

The overnight camping opportunity was not cold or unpleasant with so little wind around. I suppose that I can now claim to be one of the fortunate few who has slept on all 7 continents. About 20% of the passengers put their hands up when asked at the first meeting if this was their 7th continent to visit. We all got the opportunity to actually put our feet on the main Antarctica continent and I was able to do this on one of the kayaking outings.

While the sun officially set at 11.45 pm and rose again at 2.45 am, it never got dark. Taking after midnight the eerie misty looking photos on land with the Dutch training sailing ship Europa in the background during the camping night was only achieved with the tripod.

Was this trip better than my 2009 African safari trip? At this stage I can’t or won’t compare as the two were totally different safari experiences. Both really wonderful in their own unique ways!

E mail me and I’ll send you the link and password to the GAP web site and Facebook page so that you can see even more wonderful images of this trip to the white frozen continent. Some of the other passengers photos are of truly National Geographic quality.

Now which of these images am I going to enlarge and display? Will I get around to producing another photo book on Patagonia and Antarctica like I did with Africa?

PS: Yes, I have produced so far 12 photobooks. Again e-mail me and I will send you the web links.
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Comments

keith on

safe travels home.
just back from 3+ weeks drving around the South Island.
rain followed us
enjoyed the Penguim show on deck of unit at Curio bay all night long!
noisy bug......

Christine Simpson on

Wonderful photos Bruce....how magnificent ...a different world to here in Aussie at the moment.

Horrific floods in Qld...worse than 1974; Peaks tomorrow 13th 4am and 4pm; 80 suburbs affected, 12 dead over 40 missing thousands evacuated. Most roads inaccessible and motorways under water.

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