Antarctica is amazing in so many different ways Weddell Seals and Awesome Humpback Whales are a part of it. The trip felt breathlessly exciting…just going to Antarctica is a mind adventure in and of itself. The seventh continent for me, the mysterious White Continent! Seeing animals, is for me, the most incredible part of almost any trip and Antarctica has plentiful life both above, and below, the sea. On Day 5, when we were looking at the Blue Whale bones, I was made aware that two large Weddell Seals were snoozing nearby. I took a seat by the bones, as close to the seals as I could get without endangering myself or startling them, and just sat quietly, watching them. Of course, I photographed them as well, obviously!
Ever heard of a Weddell Seal? I think they are the prettiest of the Antarctic seals…at least, the ones I saw, which were Crabeaters (who don’t eat crab), Elephant Seals (huge!), Leopard Seals and Weddells. I know there are fur seals, but I didn’t see any of them. Seals are different from sea lions though they are related…seals do not have ear flaps, they can’t “walk” around on their flippers like sea lions can, but the most beautiful difference is their vocalizations. Sea Lions bark, Weddell seals almost sing. Their vocalizations are very pretty, almost like song. A sweet difference. Check out some sea lions!
After Port Lockroy the expedition headed toward Wilhelmina Bay, named for Wilhelmina, Queen of the Netherlands, who reigned from 1890 to 1948. It is a 15 mile wide bay located between Reclus Peninsula and Cape Anna, along the west coast of the Antarctic Peninsula. It was discovered by the Belgian Antarctic Expedition of 1897-99 led by Adrien de Gerlache. To say this bay has spectacular scenery is an understatement. It is a popular destination for humpback whales because of its rich plankton rich upwells. We were not disappointed! We saw them quite a few times, but in the Bay, they came very close to the ship. I was on the bow, photographing them, and they actually went under the bow, coming up on the other side. This was the closest I’d ever seen their blowholes, their throats, and their blows! It was truly magical.
Two of the Humpbacks stayed very close together as you can see from the photographs! The whole ship seemed to be on the bow, either taking photographs or making loud “oooooo” and “ahhhh” sounds. Dinner that evening was loud with chatter about the Humpbacks and people running around showing off their photos. A very exciting day for the entire ship.