Posts Tagged ‘fin whales’

A Large Pod of Fin, er, Sei Whales

February 13th, 2010 at 11:50 pm (AST) by Jake Richter

And, right as we saw the Antarctic fur seal, the ocean in the distance exploding with whale blow. Turns out we had found a large pod of fin whales, which are among the largest mammals in the world.

UPDATE – Feb. 14, 2010: Our marine mammal experts on board, now that they have had time to review the photos from yesterday, have determined that at least some of the fin whales we saw were in fact Sei whales – similar to the fin whales, but a different species with slight different features. And the species may swim together in a pod, to further complicate identification.

The blow from the pod of fin whales is reminiscent of the fountains at the Bellagio

The blow from the pod of fin whales is reminiscent of the fountains at the Bellagio

What a school of fin whales this was - all blowing out simultaneously

What a school of fin whales this was - all blowing out simultaneously

Here you can clearly see the mouth and lower jaw of a fin whale (rear one)

Here you can clearly see the mouth and lower jaw of a fin whale (rear one)

The pod of fin whales and our vessel part ways with a final spout

The pod of fin whales and our vessel part ways with a final spout

 

Jake’s Take – Drake Passage – Day 2 – Part 2 – Wow!!!

February 13th, 2010 at 11:31 pm (AST) by Jake Richter

After we had the gear we were taking on land tomorrow disinfected and vacuumed as necessary, around 3:30pm today, we were told over the announcement system that there was an iceberg ahead.

Getting our protective gear – which includes great parkas supplied by Lindblad and included in our tour fee, and our cameras, we headed out to the bow to see if we could take any decent photos.

The next two hours were spent out in the cold (about 40 degrees Fahrenheit) taking photo after photo of each new wondrous thing that appeared, roughly in the following order:

– A large iceberg with a colony of chinstrap penguins on it

– Part of said iceberg coming off with a very loud cracking/gunshot sort of sound

– An Antarctic fur seal

– A large pod of fin whales – among the largest mammals on earth – feeding near the surface and constantly blowing, at a distance reminding us of the synchronized water fountains at the Bellagio in Las Vegas

– A humpback whale that stayed near the boat for about 20 minutes, giving us wonderful photo opportunities, time and time again

– Southern fulmars flying by in countless numbers

– And, last but not least – a massive iceberg which showed us how high swells could get here at the southern end of the Drake Passage by virtue of a smooth, washed down face contrasted with a rough rear face. And it also showed us the striations formed by the hundreds of snow falls necessary to build the iceberg to its massive size.

There are a large number of pictures representing all of the above – I managed to cull down about 600 photos to less than 30, but in order to present them in more manageable chunks, I will post each of the itemized list items above as a separate post.

But first, below are a few of the humans watching these beautiful nature moments.

Passengers aboard the National Geographic Explorer hoping to spot more marine mammals

Passengers aboard the National Geographic Explorer hoping to spot more marine mammals

Photographers shooting whale images aboard the National Geographic Explorer

Photographers shooting whale images aboard the National Geographic Explorer

Explorer Jake, ready for anything

Explorer Jake, ready for anything

We should be making it to Marguerite Bay tomorrow, below Adelaide Island, off the Antarctic Peninsula. We are curious how that will all compare to the amazing display of wildlife and nature we experienced today.