Dec 23, 2017 - National Geographic Explorer
Today began engulfed in fog and ice at Neko Harbour. With snow falling, and almost no wind, our guests had perfect conditions for zodiac cruises around stunning ice bergs, and a short hike up to a view point overlooking the glacier and the bay. Many of the snow covered zodiacs drove out towards the ice, switched off their engines, and just drifted, enjoying the perfectly calm silence of the bay. Silence only broken by the sound of squawking Gentoo penguins, or the occasional distant cracking of a glacier calving. Those ashore followed the penguins up to the summit of the hill, where the fog began to clear, unveiling the beauty of Neko Harbour in full.
After lunch we made our way towards Wilhelmina Bay. After an incredible encounter with type B killer whales, and humpbacks, near here just yesterday, we were hopeful of another opportunity to view some marine wildlife. The odd humpback and Antarctic minke whale was spotted, as we cruised through the 15 mile wide bay along the Antarctic Peninsula. Our hotel manager had prepared a barbecue on the back deck, and as we enjoyed our lomitos and wine, with the snow still falling, humpback whales surfacing, and Christmas carols playing, it was starting to feel a lot like Christmas.
Right on cue, as the barbecue was wrapping up, we found more whales. A lot of them. Many small groups of humpbacks were bubble-net and lunge feeding at the surface, in the plankton rich waters of Wilhelmina Bay. For an hour, we were surrounded by humpbacks continuously feeding, and displaying their flukes, while Naturalist, Conor Ryan, provided fantastic commentary to this remarkable, and fortunate encounter.
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