Wilhelmina Bay

Between the glacial Gerlache Strait and the west coast of Graham Land lies Wilhelmina Bay, its expansive waters scattered with islands and icebergs

Antarctic Peninsula

Region: Antarctica

Destinations: Antarctic Peninsula

The Royal History of Wilhelmina

Although some of the islands in this bay bear names of famous explorers, it was a young Dutch queen after whom Wilhelmina Bay was named. Belgian explorer Adrien de Gerlache did the naming. No landmarks on the whole west side of the Antarctic peninsula have been named after the Belgian royal family, in fact, as they did not support de Gerlache’s expedition. The Dutch royal family did, however, so the bay was named after their queen.

Wondrous Wilhelmina Bay Scenery

Wilhelmina Bay is high in the ranks of must-see Antarctic sights, and for good reason: The bay’s sheer ice cliffs and glacial sculpturing epitomize much of the Antarctic experience. Its waters are also sheltered, usually enabling Zodiac cruises between the islands and icebergs.

The Whales of Wilhelmina (Whale-mina) Bay 

Wilhelmina Bay is often called “Whale-mina Bay,” as it is one of the best places to spot the larger residents of the oceanic world. The waters are filled with krill, the staple food of many whales, which explains the whale population. Sadly, it also explains why the bay was a top whaler hunting ground during the first decades of the 20th century. 

Wilhelmina Bay’s Whaling Wreckage

A haunting reminder of the whaling heyday is the wreck of the Norwegian whaling vessel Guvernøren, which sank after catching fire in 1916. The wreck still is visible in Guvernøren Harbor and offers good diving for those who wish to admire the Antarctic from below the waves.

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