There were times that I was sure the boat would list to starboard. The call of “Whale” would draw interest. But the call “Orca” had everyone grabbing their parkas and rushing to the sighting.
We had been trying to go through the Lemaire Channel. It is around 11 kilometers long and just wide enough for our boat.
As you can see, the open spot we were heading for quickly closed and the boat did a 180 and off we went to safer waters!
We did some sightseeing. If that is what you can call it. Sights, yes. Seeing, yes. Observing and contemplating–that’s more like it. There is nothing casual about Antarctica.
At Base Brown we climbed through slushy snow and barren volcanic rock. But the view was worth every stumble. Getting through my acrophobia was just a side benefit.
It was an amazing place to sit and contemplate the world and your place in it.
No phones, no computers, no contact with the outside world. Just the place and you.
Even your mind stops rushing to its next thought. Antarctica surrounds you and holds you still.
But when the call was heard for “whale” whether on board the boat or the zodiac, you took heed. Everyone would rush to the side of the boat where the sighting had been. The zodiacs turned up their engines and raced to the closest safe spot to observe the leviathans of the Antarctica.
The next call was not “whale”, it was “ORCA”.
There they were, about nine on the surface and probably that many below.
Orcas. Where they truly belonged. In the cold, isolated Antarctic waters.
Everyone just kept there shutter button down and the cameras snapped continually. Few words were spoken until the cytologist started jumping up and down yelling, “Minke! Minke!”
He had spotted, in the middle of the Orca pod, two Minke whales. That is not suppose to happen. Orcas usually have Minkes for lunch and two for dinner.
Another lesson learned.
There are several species of Orca. The large ones are known as Orca A. They really like dining on Minke. Orca B’s, however, are picky eaters and only dine on penguin.
We were watching Orca B’s in action.
For a good 30 minutes our captain kept us abreast of the pod.
While we rushed to the port or starboard sides of the boat to watch these great creatures, we all stopped and absorbed the beauty and strength of the Orcas.
Antarctica makes you do that. You stop, you observe, you recognize that you are there by invitation only. It is their home. Not yours.