Lindblad Expeditions - From the National Geographic Explorer in Antarctica - Sue Perin, naturalist; Whale photo: Sisse Brimberg
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From the National Geographic Explorer in Antarctica

Jan 15, 2013 - National Geographic Explorer

Humpback whales and Zodiacs
Leopard seal

Cierva Cove

This morning we woke once again surrounded by the stunning beauty of Antarctica. Cierva Cove provided the perfect glacial backdrop in which to greet the day, drink our coffee and marvel yet again that we are here. Each day seems to be more beautiful than the next – is that really possible?

This too was the location of our grand finale Zodiac cruise in Antarctica. As it turned out, not only did we find this to be a splendid place, but so did several other creatures.

One of the highlights of the morning was a group of three humpback whales that moved ever so slowly, in unison. Three backs lined up in a row as they surfaced in between feeding. Occasionally one would raise its massive head. When the lighting and angle was right we could see them, especially their 15-foot-long white pectoral flippers, through the water. The sound of the blows, the look of these immense animals and the thrill of being at nearly eye-level with them was incredible. We worked on getting just the right iceberg as a backdrop for our photos… and then we worked on etching this memory in our minds, all the sounds and the sights together, nearly impossible to capture by camera, but in our memories forever.

Besides the whales there were impressive icebergs that had calved from one of the glaciers surrounding the bay. And on the smaller pieces of ice we found many leopard seals. Their large reptilian-like heads and wide “grins” made them easy to identify. They appeared to be having their morning naps, draped in all positions, each with their own icy bed. This author has never seen so many leopard seals in one bay.

As we made our way from one end of the cove to the other we did not have to get our sustenance just from the scenery (although it would have been enough). There, out by one of the bergs was our own floating hot chocolate shop – Hotel Manager Henrik with help from the Ice Navigator Magnus, Bartender Marek and Sous Chef Karolina were there to serve us homemade hot chocolate with a splash of our choice of “antifreeze” to keep the cold at bay! What more could we possibly ask for!?

About the Author

Sue Perin·Expedition Leader

Sue started her naturalist career working as a wildlife biologist in the forests of Maine, Newfoundland and the Washington Cascades. Employing her B.Sc. in wildlife management from the University of Maine, she has counted bald eagles from a raft in the middle of winter, live-trapped pine marten and studied spotted owls. After that, wanting to share her knowledge and love of natural areas with others, she moved into the realm of education.