Whales! Whales! Whales!
Having escaped the Antarctic Sound and Bransfield Strait overnight we find ourselves sailing in the beautiful Gerlache Strait this morning. We are sitting in the restaurant having breakfast and, guess what, a large humpback decides to appear and give us a show, breaching several times as we slowly sail by. Thank you!
Karin, our bubbly expedition leader, has scheduled a visit into Wilhelmina Bay in the hope of spotting whales. It is an area well known to attract whales at this time of year due to rich food supplies in the cool waters. Guests are out on deck and binoculars are pointed in all directions! It is not long before we spot a couple of humpback whales near the glacier edge on the portside. Everyone runs to the left! Someone then spots some activity starboard. Everybody runs to the right! However the main attraction is yet to start ... a couple of obliging humpback whales start their typical feeding activity at some distance off the bow and then steadily get closer and closer, eventually touching the FRAM's hull! Humpback's dive and then blow a ring of bubbles to concentrate the krill in a funnel and then swim up to the surface with their mouths open. Some of us may have seen this in a TV documentary but to see it first hand and literally feet away was truly amazing! To be frank it is difficult to pull us away but the nasty Karin insists we move on (and quite right too!).
Our next stop is the Errera Channel, a very scenic, narrow waterway between Ronge Island and the Arctowski Peninsula on the mainland. It was discovered by the Belgica expedition and named for Professor Leo Errera of the University of Brussels, a benefactor of the voyage. Errera is home to Cuverville Island, our afternoon landing site and one of the largest known Gentoo penguin colonies!