World Oceans Day

Humpback Whale in the Southern Ocean

Today (June 8th) is World Oceans Day, a day to celebrate all that the oceans can give us, but also to think about the way we deal with that ocean. Today I like to take you with me to one of my nicest memories near the Southern Ocean.

I was working as a guide on the expedition vessel Grigoriy Mikheev and we were near Melchior Islands, on the northern tip of the Antarctic Peninsula. Almost always the last stop before we headed back across the Drake Passage. A nice scenic place, with glaciers, mountains, some wildlife and penguins, ideal for a zodiac cruise. We were just getting ready to get into the zodiacs, when someone spotted five Humpback Whales nearby. We decided to have a look from the zociacs. For the next 45 minutes we were circling around the Humpbacks, looking at them from close distance. They surfaced sometimes just a few meters from our zodiac and once we even drove our zodiac through one of their blows (and no, that’s not just water….). They appeared to know exactly where we were, never came too close (nor did we come too close to them), and they seemed to enjoy our company. Once a while they took off a little to feed, we even saw some bubblenetting once, but they always came back to us. After 45 minutes we decided to leave them alone, so we wouldn’t disturb them eventually. When we had all zodiacs together to tell this to the passengers, they surfaced right next to us, as if they were asking “Hey, where are you? We want to continue playing!” For me this is still one of the best memories to Antarctica and my best whale encounter ever.

Arjen Drost

Arjen is a Polar ecologist, nature photographer and full time expedition guide on expedition cruise ships in both Polar regions. With his pictures and stories he likes to show the beauty of these very fragile and threatened places.

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