Cierva Cove & Enterprise Islands

Feb 09, 2018 - National Geographic Explorer

Today was a whale of a day! Our morning was spent exploring Cierva Cove, where every category of glacial ice resides, with massive icebergs, bergy bits, growlers, and dense brash, harboring an incredible array of wildlife. Minke and humpback whales prowled among the ice foraging as they went and Weddell, crabeater, and leopard seals lazily whiled away the morning on their icy rafts. There’s truly no better way to experience such a spectacle than by Zodiac, and that’s exactly what we did. 

We later sailed south in the Gerlache Strait towards the entrance of Wilhelmina Bay and Enterprise Island. The weather and conditions were perfect for spotting marine life and from the bridge everywhere we scanned groups of humpback whales could be spotted, feeding on the abundance of krill now present in these waters. Krill are the true keystone species of this system playing a significant role in nearly every vertebrate’s life in the Antarctic. 

In the afternoon most chose to ply the waters around the islands and the historic wreck of the Governoren by kayak, such an intimate and relaxing manner to take in the majesty of this place. Others chose to see the sights by Zodiac and what sights we saw. Roughly a mile out into the bay there were dozens of feeding humpback whales. With a cautious approach and staying at a safe distance we were graced with what is truly one of the greatest wildlife spectacles. Each animal weighing up to 45 tons surfacing all around, their blows left hanging over the frenzy like a low-lying cloud, all the while surrounded by the surreal beauty of the towering peaks dressed in their glacial robes. This is Antarctica at its best.

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About the Author

Doug Gualtieri


Doug’s passion for the natural world started at an early age in his home state of Michigan. He received two biology degrees from Central Michigan University, and later went on to get a master’s degree in conservation biology. His education led him to study a diverse range of natural sciences, with an emphasis on ecology, animal behavior, and migratory birds. Shortly after leaving the academic world, Doug migrated north to Alaska with his trusty Siberian husky, Koda. He began working as a naturalist in Denali National Park in 1999. For over seven years he has shared his love of Alaska and Denali’s six million acres with Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic guests, as trip leader for the Denali Land Extension based at the North Face Lodge deep within the park.

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