Marine Mammals of Antarctica
» Mar 23 2019 – Apr 2 2019 (11 DAYS)
» EMBARKATION: Ushuaia
» DISEMBARKATION: Ushuaia
EXPEDITION IN BRIEF
- Increased access to landing sites
- Highest concentration of whales
- Join world-renowned cetacean experts and observe their important fieldwork
- Day 1 – Ushuaia, Argentina
- Days 2 and 3 – Drake Passage, at sea towards Antarctica
- Days 4 to 7 – Gerlache Strait and Antarctic Peninsula
- Day 8 – South Shetland Islands, Antarctica
- Days 9 and 10 – Drake Passage, return to South America
- Day 11 – Ushuaia, Argentina
By March, the short Antarctic summer is drawing to a close and bays and harbours that have been ice choked since winter become free of such impediments. As a result, our access to landing sites increases significantly. Penguin chicks are almost fully-grown and are quickly shedding their downy coats in preparation to take to the sea before winter arrives.
March is also a time of great activity in and under the water and historically, we encounter a much higher concentration of whales during this period. Whales are busy feeding on the huge biomass of krill in preparation for their migrations to tropical waters far to the north. However, scientists are now discovering that some humpback whales remain in the ice-free sections of Antarctica over winter and hypothesize this may be due to the effects of climate change.
On this voyage we plan to visit several known locations along the Antarctic Peninsula that are the focus of long-term research projects by esteemed academic institutions including Oregon State University (USA) and Stanford University (USA). We are joined on the ship by several world-renowned cetacean (whale) experts and observe their important fieldwork in close proximity. They share with us unique underwater footage and scientific data and interpret the behavior, migration characteristics and feeding patterns of adult whales and their calves. Their participation on our voyage is greatly valued and provides a fascinating glimpse into world of Antarctic science.
Antarctica’s seals are also found in sizable numbers late in the season, resting and storing energy that will sustain them over the cold months ahead. For those with a passion for whales and seals – and an interest in the important science happening in Antarctica – this unique voyage should not be missed. Oh, did we mention it’s also our favourite time of the year for blistering orange and pink Antarctic sunrises and sunsets?
ITINERARY DAY BY DAY
Day 1 – Ushuaia, Argentina
Our journey to Antarctica commences this afternoon in Ushuaia, Argentina. We gather at our central meeting point and transfer to the pier and embark our expedition ship. After settling into our cabins and exploring the ship, we meet our expedition team and fellow passengers. Excitement is in the air as we enjoy a welcome cocktail, dinner and cast off, bound for Antarctica and the adventure of a lifetime.
Days 2 and 3 – Drake Passage, at sea towards Antarctica
Sailing south towards Antarctica we will be joined by hundreds of seabirds including the wandering albatross. Giant petrels and smaller Cape petrels are also constant companions as we transit the Drake Passage. Photographing these magnificent birds from the deck of the ship takes patience and skill and our photography expert will be on hand to show you the best techniques. Join the ship’s Captain on the bridge and learn about the operations of our modern expedition vessel. Throughout the day our onboard experts educate us with a series of presentations about the environment, wildlife and history and the locations we hope to visit in the coming days.
Days 4 to 7 – Gerlache Strait and Antarctic Peninsula
We awaken today and the magnificent snowy peaks of continental Antarctica are laid out before us. Even our experienced expedition staff, some with more than 100 journeys south, will take a moment to pause and reflect on the immense power of Antarctica. Take a deep breath – you have arrived.
The waterways of the Antarctic Peninsula are home to deep bays, pristine coves and inlets and numerous islands. The landscape features heavily glaciated mountains permanently covered in ice and snow. Rocky outcrops, known as ‘nunataks’ are home to gentoo, Adelie and chinstrap penguin rookeries and the waters are rich in marine life. We frequently encounter seals, including the powerful leopard seal, often found relaxing on an ice floe. Curious humpback whales and the smaller minke whales are found in sizeable numbers in this region. Sightings of orca are not uncommon.
Fournier Bay is a known whale ‘hot-spot’ and ice permitting, we explore in Zodiacs hoping to encounter pods of whales. The science team hope to deploy non-invasive tracking devices on the whales to collect data on dive and feeding patterns. Observation and photography of whale flukes (tails) is something everyone is encouraged to participate in both from the ship and while Zodiac cruising. Whale flukes are unique identifiers of particular animals, in much the same way as a human finger print. Collecting and analyzing this data is vital to our understanding of whale migration patterns and social behavior.
In addition to our whale encounters, we enjoy a regular program of exploration on and off the ship. Popular activities include guided hikes on shore and visits to wildlife colonies with our expert naturalist guides, while the historic huts and science stations provide a fascinating glimpse into the past and the present. Zodiac cruising among the ice is a memorable activity and our sea kayakers may range several miles from the ship. Our photography guide will be on hand to help you with your camera handling, image composition and the peculiar light found in Antarctica.
Planned excursions could include Cierva Cove, Danco Island, or a cruise through the Errera Channel to visit the penguin rookeries at Cuverville Island. Wilhelmina Bay never disappoints and is another important location where the scientists hope to deploy their research tools. Neko Harbour is yet another highlight and offers an excellent hiking route providing stunning 360 degree views.
After several busy days of exploration along the Peninsula, we head north across the Bransfield Strait, bound for the South Shetland Islands. This is an important whale migration corridor and frequent sightings can be expected of humpbacks and even the fast moving orca.
Day 8 – South Shetland Islands, Antarctica
The adventure is not over and, if the weather conditions allow, we sail the ship into the flooded volcanic caldera at Deception Island. This is a very dramatic location. History is all around us as we explore the old whaling station, with the rusted old boilers, aircraft hangar and dilapidated wooden structures. There are several other nearby landing sites to tempt us including Half Moon Island, or the broad pebbly beach at Yankee Harbour, where we often encounter Weddell seals sunning themselves. This is a great spot for a hike or a Zodiac cruise. In the evening, we navigate north through the McFarlane Strait and into the Drake Passage, charting a course for South America.
Days 9 and 10 – Drake Passage, return to South America
As we make our way back to South America, the educational presentations continue and we enjoy an entertaining and memorable voyage recap by our Expedition Leader. Join our photography experts in the multimedia room and download and back up your precious images. If weather conditions allow, we hope to make a rounding of Cape Horn. This fabled stretch of water is home to legendary tales of exploration and early navigation. It’s a fitting place to reflect on a wonderful expedition. Approaching the entrance to the Beagle Channel in early evening light, we enjoy a special dinner attended by the Captain of the ship.
Day 11 – Ushuaia, Argentina
In the early morning, we arrive into Ushuaia, Argentina. It is time to say farewell to your crew and fellow travellers. Guests will be transported to their hotels or to the airport for return flights home. It will be possible to connect to flights through to Buenos Aires or other destinations in South America. Otherwise enjoy a night in town or venture further afield to explore the highlights of Patagonia.
CABINS & PRICES
|Triple Share||USD 8,695|
|Twin-Semi Private||USD 10,795|
|Twin Private||USD 11,795|
|Shackleton Suite||USD 13,995|
|One Ocean Suite||USD 15,895|
All rates per person in USD
- Extensive pre-departure information package
- Educational presentations from experienced guides such as ornithologists, glaciologists, historians, geologists, naturalists and marine mammals experts
- Photography advice and instructions from the resident photographer. Extended photography workshops available on select departures
- All zodiac and landing excursions
- Zodiac cruising, hiking, guided walks, photography workshops, fitness and yoga
- Overnight camping, including high-quality equipment. No pre-registration required. Camping is available on select departures only and can be affected by itinerary and
- weather conditions. Please see your full itinerary for further details
- All meals during the voyage prepared by One Ocean Expeditions chefs
- Welcome reception and welcome dinner
- One Ocean Expeditions Farewell dinner hosted by the Captain
- Daily afternoon tea with fresh snacks
- Coffee, tea and hot chocolate available anytime
- Access to wellness area (Finnish sauna, plunge pool filled with sea water, hot tub)
- Natural essential oil amenities
- Use of multimedia room to download images. Adobe Lightroom/Photoshop and card readers are available for use on MAC and PC computers
- Windproof/waterproof jacket and bib pants on loan
- Insulated rubber boots on loan
- Water resistant binoculars on loan
- Waterproof backpack on loan
- Trekking poles available on shore
- Services of English speaking medical officer
- Access to ship’s infirmary
- Transfers from/to designated meeting points to/from the ship
- Required flights to/from the ship (only applicable on certain departures)
- Luggage transfer to/from your cabin
- International and national airfares
- Visa and passport fees, airport taxes
- Pre- or post-cruise hotel accommodation in arrival/departure cities
- Meals and transfers in arrival/departure cities
- Personal expenses
- Soft drinks and alcoholic beverages
- Massages from registered therapist
- Personal laundry charges
- Postage, telephone calls and email set up
- Medical expenses such as fees, prescriptions or medications
- Travel medical insurance including medical evacuation (mandatory)
- Trip interruption/cancellation insurance
- Gratuities to staff and crew