Friday 7 January 2011

Whalecome to Whalehelmina Bay

Our day started a little earlier this morning.  We began our landing at the Argentina base of Almirante Brown in Paradise Bay at 07:00.  No one minded getting up a little bit earlier than usual.  It was a beautiful day, almost a carbon copy of yesterday's weather.  Much to our surprise there was a light on at the base and an open door.  Someone was home!  We soon found out that there were seven men there to do some renovations and some maintenance work.  They invited us to visit with open arms.  We landed bearing gifts  of fresh fruit and vegetables.  

 For many people it was there seventh continent and a very special reason to celebrate this landing.  Most of us  made the 90 metre climb to the top of the hill just behind the base.  There was a lot of fresh snow which made it safe and fun to slide back down the hill! 
Near the end of the landing at 11:30, five killer whales came cruising right by the landing site!  It was fantastic.  In Antarctica there are three different groups of Killer Whales recognized.  They are very imaginatively called Type A, Type B and, you guessed it, Type C (aka Ross Sea Killer Whales).  These were Type B's.  They look very different from all other Killer Whales with the exception of Type C.  In the austral summer Type C are found in the Ross Sea area, they are also much smaller, so we new these must be Killer B's.  
How is their appearance different from other Killer Whales?  The green arrow in the photograph shows a dark dorsal cape and if you look carefully, you can also see a line that delineates the cape.  Only type B and Type C have this dark cape.  The yellow arrow shows the huge white eye patch common to Type B's and the red arrow shows the grey body colour which is unique to Type B and Type C.

In the afternoon we headed for Wilhelmina Bay in the hopes of doing some whale watching from the ship. There were so many whales in the bay that we thought we might change the name to Whalehelmina Bay.  We saw at least eight Humpback Whales and two Minke Whales.  It seemed like just about everyone was out on deck enjoying the incredible scenery, the sunshine and the whales.  
Now we are on our way to the Weddell Sea and hopefully a landing at Brown Bluff.