Whale day: the sequel

White-beaked Dolphin

As a guide I often get the question “What are the chances of seeing whales on this cruise?” When I just started guiding, I had to say that we didn’t see many whales normally. Maybe a few Minke Whales or a pod of Beluga, but chances on the larger whales or dolphins were really slim. In recent years this has changed. Now we see large whales nearly every cruise. There are a few places really good for whales and when we have good visibility at those places, we nearly always see a few. Dolphins however, remain scarce, with the best chances on White-beaked Dolphins off the west coast of Spitsbergen.

Today we crossed Storfjord, one of the places that are good for larger whales. It started good, with a few Fin Whales very close to the ship. We slowed down to have a good look and continued after a while. The rest of the afternoon and evening small numbers of Minke and Fin’s were regularly seen at some distance. In the evening the light was really nice again. Since a day or two the sun really sets again, giving a very long sunset with very nice coloured light. Just after sunset, when most of us were in the bar, a few people were still looking outside. One of them came inside and said: “I think I see dolphins.” My initial reaction was that it would probably be Harp Seals, as they are often mistaken for dolphins and I had never seen dolphins on this side of Spitsbergen. But a quick look I realised I was wrong and that indeed we had a pod of White-beaked Dolphins in front of the ship. Fortunately I still had my camera nearby, so I quickly went to the front deck and enjoyed this group of dolphins, maybe even up to 35 individuals big. An awesome sight, they were even jumping out of the water and the light was really special. White-beaked Dolphins never stay long but this visit wasn’t too short. Most of us got some good sights on this pod and for me it was another highlight in this already really good season.

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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