• Home
  • Blog
  • Humpback whales at Wilhelmina Bay - Antarctic Peninsula

Humpback whales at Wilhelmina Bay - Antarctic Peninsula

by Gary Miller Blog

As we moved away from the ship, the Zodiacs scattered in several directions. I took my Zodiac into Brooklyn Channel, between the two islands. Very soon we spotted blows ahead. The humpbacks were here!
Antarctic Peninsula

Regions: Antarctica

Destinations: Antarctic Peninsula

Highlights: Humpback Whale

Humpback whales at Wilhelmina Bay 

The alarm seemed to go off very early today.  It was still dark outside my porthole as we got up to get the day started.  Once I got dressed and went outside to load the boats, all hesitation for the early hour disappeared.  The day was absolutely clear and with the low angle of the sun, the icy mountains were exquisitely lit with the palest of blues, pinks and mauve pastel colors. The MV Ortelius was drifting peacefully on a mirror-calm sea in Wilhelmina Bay on the Antarctic Peninsula.  Wilhelmina Bay is surrounded on two sides by the spine of the continent - rising to 2000 metres and completely covered with ice and snow with Nansen and Brooklyn Islands forming the other boundaries.

Humpbacks!

Wilhelmina Bay is well known for feeding humpback whales so we are hopeful that we’ll find them in short order and be able to see these magnificent giants at close range. They did not disappoint!  As we moved away from the ship, the Zodiacs scattered in several directions. I took my Zodiac into Brooklyn Channel, between the two islands.  Very soon we spotted blows ahead.  The humpbacks were here!

© Gary Miller | Oceanwide Expeditions

The surface of the bay was paved with sparkling patches of brash, the leftover broken pieces of glacial ice from calvings and the disintegration of icebergs. The Zodiacs push through easily, but we do have to go slow—and miss the odd larger chunk.

Unbelievable close views of the whales

Finally, carefully, we slowly approached three whales; one calf and two adults. Obeying all the rules of boating, the whales were unperturbed by our presence. By idling quietly we were treated to unbelievable close views of the whales at the surface. They lounged noisily at the surface. 

© Gary Miller | Oceanwide Expeditions

Perhaps they’d recently finished a bout of feeding. The calf was a bit more rambunctious so we managed to see his flukes a couple times as the two adults mostly made shallow and short dives in a very leisurely manner. There’s always some excited anticipation when they all disappear from view under for a dive.  

© Gary Miller | Oceanwide Expeditions

© Gary Miller | Oceanwide Expeditions

© Gary Miller | Oceanwide Expeditions

One of those times we got the shock of our lives when they returned to the surface just a couple metres from the Zodiac—it seemed we could reach out and touch them! It’d be hard to beat that moment if we stayed longer. Besides, cups of tea were beckoning us back to the ship. So we bid our new friends farewell and left them to their exquisite surroundings. It was time for us to return to the Ortelius and start our journey home.

Love this article? Share your appreciation:

Related cruises

Falkland Islands - South Georgia - Antarctic Peninsula
Up to 3200 USD discount

Falkland Islands - South Georgia - Antarctic Peninsula

Meet at least six penguin species

PLA23-18. This Falkland Islands, South Georgia, and Antarctic Peninsula cruise is an animal-lover’s dream come true. The expedition explores one of the last untamed areas on Earth – a land of ruggedly beautiful landscapes and amazingly varied wildlife.

m/v Plancius

m/v Plancius

Cruise date:

3 Dec - 22 Dec, 2018

Price:

15900 USD 12700 USD 3200 USD discount

Cool Deal
Falkland Islands - South Georgia - Antarctica
Up to 2550 USD discount

Falkland Islands - South Georgia - Antarctica

Meet at least six penguin species!

HDS21-19. A cruise to the Falkland Islands, South Georgia & the Antarctic Peninsula. Visit some of the most beautiful arrays of wildlife on Earth. This journey will introduce you to at least 6 species of penguin and a whole lot of Antarctic fur seals!

m/v Hondius

m/v Hondius

Cruise date:

3 Nov - 23 Nov, 2019

Price:

12500 USD 9950 USD 2550 USD discount

Falkland Islands - South Georgia - Antarctic Peninsula

Meet at least six penguin species!

PLA21-18. A cruise to the Falkland Islands, South Georgia & the Antarctic Peninsula. Visit some of the most beautiful arrays of wildlife on Earth. This journey will introduce you to at least 6 species of penguin and a whole lot of Antarctic fur seals!

m/v Plancius

m/v Plancius

Cruise date:

3 Nov - 23 Nov, 2018

Price:

15300 USD

Antarctic Peninsula with South Shetland Islands
Up to 1450 USD discount

Antarctic Peninsula with South Shetland Islands

Classic Antarctica including Deception Island

PLA22-18. This Antarctic Peninsula and South Shetland Islands cruise delivers you into a landscape of dark rugged rock, pure white snow, and a fantastic variety of wildlife. Come say hello to whales, seals, and thousands of penguins.

m/v Plancius

m/v Plancius

Cruise date:

23 Nov - 3 Dec, 2018

Price:

9200 USD

Antarctic Peninsula with South Shetland Islands

Classic Antarctica including Deception Island

OTL25-19. This Antarctic Peninsula and South Shetland Islands cruise delivers you into a landscape of dark rugged rock, pure white snow, and a fantastic variety of wildlife. Come say hello to whales, seals, and thousands of penguins.

m/v Ortelius

m/v Ortelius

Cruise date:

9 Dec - 18 Dec, 2018

Price:

7900 USD