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The Falkland Islands, South Georgia & Antarctic Peninsula
November 2016

Antarctica - Off The Beaten Track
November - Dec 2016

Over the four weeks of the two trips encounters with whales happened almost every day.

In the open ocean and closer in to the Antarctic continent we came across fin whales especially - some days huge numbers.  One morning there were perhaps 18 - 20 feeding, packed quite close and travelling in the same direction heaving at the surface through heavy seas their huge blows streaking downwind.  All the while around the leviathans were steams of prions and petrels and there were other groups of birds gathering in rafts to feed on the spillage left in the whales’ wake.

The number of whales grew until it seemed every horizon was alive with blows and at the end of an hour or more there were reckoned to be over 100 whales in all.  Every so often the more pronounced sickle-shaped dorsal fin of sei whales swept through the throng of fin whales.  And for a long moment the enormous sweep of a blue whale’s back rolled through the ocean before the tiny tell-tale dorsal fin  swept into view and was gone just as quickly.

An abundance of ideas for studio work came from that one day - one I shall never forget!

A pod of fin whales surrounded by masses of seabirds - mostly Antarctic prions and blue petrels, white-chinned and cape petrels, and many black-browed albatrosses and small storm petrels. A wildlife encounter full of energy and sense of abundance in the Southern Ocean.
A pod of fin whales surrounded by masses of seabirds - mostly Antarctic prions and blue petrels, white-chinned and cape petrels, and many black-browed albatrosses and small storm petrels. A wildlife encounter full of energy and sense of abundance in the Southern Ocean.  

(left) A white-headed petrel passing a group of fin whales.  

What was visually  exciting about this particular encounter of mammal and bird were the harmonies in colour and form.  The characteristic dark angular arrow pattern across the wings and back of the pterodroma petrel mirrored the dorsal fin of the razorback whale.

'Razorback' was an old whalers name for the fin whale.