Orca - killer whale - 2 v pengiun - 1

Trip Start Dec 07, 2010
Trip End Jan 14, 2011

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MS Expedition

Flag of Antarctica  ,
Thursday, January 6, 2011

Lunch and up the Lemaire Channel to Dallmann Bay for some whale spotting in Diamond Bay.

It was like a movie in several parts … school orcas (killer whales) verses the sole lonely penguin. No guesses as to who won out in the end. After one of the parts, Julio asked us for a minute's silence for the dearly departed penguin. This frenzy activity with 3 different attacks in such a short time was unheard of by the crew so we were really blessed by witnessing nature at work. We were later told that it was probably a training exercise by the orcas. After the capture the sea was quiet with the orcas seemingly gathered in a circle around the dead penguin.

In total it was estimated that 70 orcas were in this area but the actual chase I saw was done by just 5 - 6 orcas.

They came so oh close to the ship with the penguin even at one stage trying to jump onto the ship as if the ship was a safe iceberg.

Later we saw hump back whales and yes, they breached. Sorry, no photographic record but believe me I saw the tail as it dived.


Expedition Team Message: Penguin vs Orca

Julio Preller sent us this story from our Expedition Team, after they had an extra-memorable voyage in Antarctica this past January...

What can anyone say about the Antarctic that has not been said before? Anything that may be read from this, would only sound like cliches copied from stories told by the fortunate few that have experienced Antarctica and witnessed its glory for themselves.

Superlatives are lost in this magical and majestical fairyland. Wildlife is in abundance as much as the scenery is spectacular. Each voyage takes us into a completely new experience to be lived and relived in our memories.

One such experience shared by all on board the M/S Expedition in early January left us spellbound and was the topic of conversation held by the staff for many weeks that followed.

We were heading north, towards Dallman Bay, when the tell tale upright dorsal fin of a large male orca was sighted. The Captain slowed down to give us the chance to see if we were going to be lucky and get a better view of these magnificent cetaceans. Soon became obvious that we were in the middle of a 'super pod’. (Two or three smaller pods joining together, in search of food. A total of maybe 60-70 animals!)

All passengers and staff were out either on the bow, on the bridge or on the top deck to get the best vantage point available to witness the event that was about to unfold before our eyes. It appeared that they were on a training exercise. The adults were teaching their young how to hunt. What we saw, will stay with us, in our minds, hearts and cameras for as long as we allow it.

What appeared to be one lonely Gentoo was sighted by a member of the pod, and the most amazing chase was on! Maybe 6, 8, or more of these magnificent cetaceans swam after the lone long tailed penguin. Diving , swerving, jumping, twisting in unison, gaining ground with every seemingly effortless pulse of their streamlined form. How could it be, we asked ourselves that this one bird could out swim the masters of the Oceans?

Those of us on board were clearly divided between the supporters of the penguin and those who wanted to see a kill. Cameras were clicking at every chance we got, the animals did not cease to appease us with the show, a director of any Hollywood documentary couldn't have asked for better. In front of our bow, underneath, to the port to starboard all around us. This amazing wildlife feature film was happening right in front of our eyes (and lenses).

But then all too soon it had to end. The penguin was no more and we all were just stunned into silence at the magnificent show that we had seen. We were in awe. Then, just as we were about to call it a day, another penguin was seen darting through the water, porpoising rapidly through the air and we knew that we were in for another treat. (Sorry penguin lovers!) It was happening again. Just how lucky could we get?

Safe journeys from Julio and the M/S Expedition Team!


Expedition Log

by Scott MacPhail & Osi Shahaf

We were heading to Dallmann Bay in the afternoon to go out whale watching. We were hoping we would get lucky but we had no idea what was in store for us. No sooner had we finished lunch than Orcas were spotted. What a show they put on. Teaching their young how to hunt in a pack was their primary purpose, as they chased and cut off a poor penguin as he tried to escape. People were scurrying around the decks trying to get the best shots of this amazing chase that was happening all around the ship. What a sight we must have been from the bridge as we were moving from port side to starboard and back again as we followed this marvelous hunt.

Not only were we ‘treated’ to one chase, but to three. After about an hour and a half we continued on to our intended destination and as we entered Dallman Bay a number of Humpback whales were spotted. We were fortunate to have a mother and calf swim right beside the ship to check us out and then we were able to watch a Humpback breach about 5 times, one being very close to the ship. Many blows were seen around the bay as they were obviously feeding on krill. The scenery along the way was stunning as usual, and most of us stood out on the decks, taking it all in. We were making our way north during dinner in order to get to Deception Island for our early morning landing tomorrow. For those late nighters we played the Antarctic bluff game, everyone’s favourite was the "FUD" and then we all made our way to the cabins and a good night’s sleep.

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