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Marine Mammals of Antarctica

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11 Days
Availability : March
Ushuaia, Argentina
Ushuaia, Argentina
Min Age : 15+

The ultimate whale watching and wildlife expedition.  By March, the short Antarctic summer is drawing to a close. Penguin chicks are almost fully-grown and quickly shedding their downy coats in preparation to take to the sea before the long winter. March is a time of great activity in and under the water where we have historically encountered a high concentration of whales, in particular, Humpback and Minke. Crabeater, Weddell, and Leopard seals also often grace us with their presence, as they rest and store energy that will sustain them over the cold months ahead.

For this special expedition, you will be joined by several world-renowned cetaceans (whale) and marine mammal specialists. They share with us unique underwater footage and scientific data, and help us interpret the behavior, migration characteristics and feeding patterns of adult whales and their calves. For those with a passion for whales, this unique voyage should not be missed. Did we mention it’s also a favorite time of the year for electric orange and pink Antarctic sunrises and sunsets?

Photos

We view the world as one large ocean containing a series of large islands. So it stands to reason that our actions in one part of the ocean will trickle down and have an effect in another part. This is the best way to think about the polar ecosystem of Antarctica. We are committed to run an operation that is a model to the world in terms of ecological sensitivity.

We have renowned wildlife experts on our team who have been instrumental in mobilizing some of the world’s most notable organizations to better protect Polar regions. We are dedicated to minimizing our impact on the areas we visit as well as the areas in which we operate our ships. This shows in our purchasing policies which cover provisioning, supply and waste management.

On-going scientific contribution

We fund and assist ongoing scientific research aboard our vessels. This important work ranges from collection of data for critical meteorological and oceanographic studies used at an international level, to the tagging and tracking of migrant whale populations for universities and science institutions.

At the same time, the company has donated funds equivalent to one million USD to numerous charitable organizations committed assisting underfunded health and social programs, ecological awareness and preservation plans, as well as projects committed to historical preservation. We are key partners with Oceanities, “the people who count penguins so you don’t have to”, as well as Ari Friedlaender, our resident cetacean “tagger”. By carrying active members of the scientific community to specific survey areas within Antarctica, live data is collated and contributed to the wider scientific community.

Commitment to Community

We contribute donations on a regular basis to a number of organizations (health, wildlife, youth sport, exploration and preservation) raising funds for the betterment of their programs. Funds raised exceed 250K USD annually, which accounts for close to two million USD going back to communities and their organizations.

Our in-house Arctic Outreach was developed as a way to actively give back and support Northern communities across the Canadian Arctic. We have enabled large donations to be distributed in northern communities for youth and children to participate in sports and recreation, as well as contributions to the local food banks.

In addition to donations, we also choose to supply our operations with locally sourced products that are made with minimal impact on the environment. Our commitment to limit our impact and to support small local operators and businesses is a proud decision we honor, season upon season.

We actively support our partners and their mandates with National Historic Sites, Provincial and National Parks, as well as museum exhibits and the hosting of both historical and archeological artifacts. Following our involvement in the successful partnership of the 2014 Victoria Strait Expedition – resulting in the find of Sir John Franklin’s Erebus in the Northwest Passage, we endeavor to continue the evolution of social, education and historical outreach programs committed to sharing the historical value of Canada’s history.

Itinerary

Day 1Arrival in Ushuaia

We arrive in Ushuaia, Argentina, the world’s most southerly city, where you board the expedition ship. In the early evening we set sail, bound for Antarctica and the adventure of a lifetime.

Days 2-3Drake Passage

We cross the Drake Passage, excitedly making our way closer to the white continent. Our expedition crew prepares us for our adventure with a series of presentations on everything Antarctic, but with a particular focus on the marine mammals we hope to encounter. We will see our first icebergs, a huge variety of seabirds, and, with luck, several whale species. Watching wales fully breach out of the sea is a sight you’ll remember forever.

Days 4-7Antarctic Peninsula

In the waterways of the Antarctic Peninsula we take every opportunity to explore our surroundings in inflatable Zodiac boats. Planned excursions might include Wilhelmina Bay and the southerly Petermann Island, where we observe Weddell, Crabeater and Elephant seals, skuas and other seabirds, as well as a variety of penguins – including several colonies of the comical Adélie penguin. We also hope to see the gentle humpback whale dining on krill in its feeding grounds and may be lucky to observe Orcas and Minke whales along the way. This is the optimal time of the season for whale encounters and we visit several well known whale ‘hot-spots’. If ice conditions allow we attempt a transit of the dramatic Lemaire Channel. 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 unique light found in Antarctica. All around us there are oddly-shaped icebergs that look like sculptures and the size of the colossal ‘tabular’ icebergs that break away from the continent’s ice shelf defy belief. 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 8South Shetland Island and Deception Island

The adventure is not over and if the weather conditions allow, we sail the ship into the flooded volcanic caldera at Deception Island. Several other landing sites nearby tempt us including Half Moon Island, or the broad pebbly beach at Yankee Harbour, where we often encounter Weddell seals. In the evening, we navigate north through the McFarlane Strait and into the Drake Passage, charting a course for South America.

Days 9-10Drake Passage

We leave this magical place and make our way north, heading again across the Antarctic Convergence. 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. We celebrate the conclusion of our Polar expedition with a special dinner.

Day 11Ushuaia, Argentina

In the early morning we arrive back in Ushuaia. After disembarkation you are transferred to your Ushuaia hotel or the airport for your onward journey.

Tour Details

There is a maximum of 12 people on each departure.  A menu of carefully prepared, home-cooked meals await you. The upper deck salon is surrounded by large windows creating a magnificent natural dinner theater. Depending on the season, meals feature fresh local seafood such as Copper River king salmon, sockeye salmon and or halibut, oysters, shrimp, and rockfish. These are served with fresh quality vegetables, homemade breads & rolls, soups, and fruit (organically grown ingredients are used whenever possible). Beverages include fine wines, quality beer, juice, and milk

Price Includes

  • Accommodations in Cabin
  • All Meals, Beverages (Beer, Wine) on Board
  • Educational Presentations & Photography Advice
  • Zodiac, Hiking, Walking, Photography Workshops, Yoga Activities
  • Expedition Gear for Duration of Voyage
  • Transfers to/from Ship

Price Excludes

  • Airfare
  • Gratuities
  • Any Private Expenses
  • Visas & Passport Fees, Airport Taxes
  • Pre or Post Cruise Hotel Accommodation
  • Soft drinks and Alcoholic Beverages
  • Medical Expenses & Travel Insurance (Mandatory)

Optional Activities

  • Certain Sea Kayaking