Day 6 in Antarctica and Incredible Sightings of Orcas!

The Ross Sea is home of the Giants (Icebergs), penguins, seals, and Orcas!

In Antarctica there were incredible sightings of Orcas! Have you ever seen an Orca? I’m not talking about the poor captives of Sea World and other marine parks, but killer whales in the wild. I had seen Orcas off in the distance, but in Antarctica I had a bird’s eye view! We sighted Orcas a few times, but on the last day in the Antarctic Circle, in the Ross Sea, we ran into either several pods, or one large pod. They traveled alone, together, and we witnessed a hunt involving several at the same time. *( I did feel sorry for the penguin they caught, though!)

    Killer Whales are carnivores, and can eat a variety of penguins, sea birds, seals and fish.

The Orca, or Killer Whale, is a member of the Cetacean Family. There are two types of Cetaceans, toothed and baleen. Dolphins, Killer Whales, and porpoises are toothed Cetaceans. They are a part of our family of mammals. Millions of years ago their ancestor lived on land, but eventually spent their entire lives in the water. They adapted to the marine environment, but they breathe oxygen, are warm blooded, and give live birth, and nurse, their young.

There are different types of Orca, and those populations are currently being studied. The scientists aboard the Lindblad NatGeo Explorer discussed types A, AA, and C. I have no idea which Type or Types I photographed, I only know it was wondrous to see them. Ever passenger on the ship was on the bow!

Did you know that no Orca has ever killed a human in the wild? In captivity, yes. They also do not display the fallen over dorsal fin that many of their brethren do in captivity, so well shown in the documentary, Blackfish. It has never been seen in the ocean. I watched these magnificent creatures, and felt such sorrow for captured Orcas like Tilikum, who must have been mad with grief, with claustrophobia, and with loneliness. Orcas are very social, have their own families with whom they spend their entire lives, their own language and forms of behavior. Orca sons often spend their entire lives in matriarchal pods, with their mothers. For an Orca to be separated from family, from hunting, from migrating…is absolute hell for the animal. Tilikum had had two years of life in the sea with his pod before his capture. I hate to say it, but I feel sure that Tilikum would rather have been dead than in a small pool, performing tricks for the amusement of humans, mourning for his family for his entire life. And yes, of course, I have seen dolphin and whale shows. But no more, and not for a very long time.  Never again.

It is a quandary though, as we want appreciation for these magnificent animals, and how to do that for the majority of humans, who will never actually see one in the wild? I can’t say that I know the answer, for any animal. I just know in my heart, to cage a wild animal is surely wrong. But is it necessary? I’m not sure. What I do know is that I am so fortunate, and so privileged, to see animals in the wild, to see other cultures, to travel the world. I am grateful into my very marrow for the life and experiences I have had, and will have. Travel truly does gift one with new eyes, and new perspectives.

Killer Whales, or Orca, full grown are 23 to 32 feet, and up to 5,000 pounds! (National Geographic)

The pod surrounded the ship!
The beauty of the black fin among the icebergs.
In Antarctica, the whales collect diatoms, a type of algae in the water, and it shows up yellow on their skin. When they migrate north for the winter, toward the warmer waters, the diatoms are washed off.
Incredible is the only word I can think of for these sightings.

Adelies! Stay on your icebergs or icefloes!

Some had more diatoms than others, but none were completely clean.

Hanging on a berg!
Tam Warner

Award Winning Travel Journalist and Blogger, writing about Eclectic Travels in the Empty Nest! From scuba to luxury cruises to kayaking to expeditions, Tam is ready to go! Contact me at

Published by
Tam Warner

Recent Posts

The First #WORLDMANTADAY has Arrived!

From now on, #WORLDMANTADAY will be celebrated every September 17! I have been enthralled with…

3 days ago

4 Tips to Make a New City Feel Like Home

4 Tips to Make a New City Feel Like a Temporary Home! Be at home…

6 days ago

Is Travel Insurance Really That Important?

Is travel insurance really that important? Yes!

1 week ago

My New Kid’s Book Series has Arrived with Book Two of Ocean Friends, More Fish Faces!

My New Kid's Book Series has Arrived with Book Two of Ocean Friends, More Fish…

2 weeks ago


Renowned for creating unparalleled guest experiences, Las Ventanas al Paraíso, A Rosewood Resort has announced…

1 month ago

World Lion Day 2020 is the Day to Give!

World Lion Day 2020 is the Day to Give! I first published this post in…

1 month ago