Spotting Killer whales in Antarctica

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The Lemaire channel  is a strait between mainland of the Antarctica peninsula and Booth Island. It is small between huge mountains and it’s not always possible for ships to pass through. In December when there is still a lot of Ice, Icebergs can block the narrow passage, then ships have to take another route or just head back.
Our vessel was heading for Pleneau Island but because of Icebergs blocking our way and big part of the water was still covered by a big ice shelf, it was clear that Pleneau Island wouldn’t be possible to reach. We did get on the zodiacs and explored a part of the channel that wasn’t frozen anymore and saw the ice shelf and icebergs that were blocking the rest of the channel.
There is more chance to go through this channel later in the season then it is in December. January and February would raise your chances to sail through the whole channel.

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Icebergs blocking the rest of the Lemaire Channel

That day we were very lucky to see something else then pleneau Island and the most southern living Gentoo Penguins on the peninsula. Killer whales aka Orca’s (free willy) where swimming in front of our boat and then they turned and where swimming around the boat and under the boat; It made people run over the deck from one side to the other to see more of this orca family swimming together and entertaining us with their presence , giving us a great photo opportunity to capture this display of Antarctic wildlife. Really this was amazing. After Seals and Penguins we got to see killer whales in the wild, no seaworld, no tricks, the real deal, in their natural habitat. They come a little to the surface and then go under again.
Under water they look like green ghosts, really amazing to see. All this was happening so close to the Lemaire Channel.

Orka family they stay together and it makes them stronger when they hunt

Orca family they stay together and it makes them stronger when they hunt

Orka comming closer

Orca coming closer

under water they look like ghosts

under water they look like ghosts

 

 

 

 

 

Danco Island

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Danco Island was without a doubt the nicest experience I had in Antarctica.
It was a steep hike to reach the top of the Island and for this 45 minute walk they gave me snowshoes. These snowshoes are used on soft snow and it makes me wonder why we didn’t get to use them on our other landings for example at Neko Harbour.
Anyhow it was the first time I wore snowshoes and I had some difficulties to strap them on in the beginning, but once I figured that out, I was ready for my walk up to the top.

The long walk up was all worth it, I passed by Penguins using their penguin highway again and it’s crazy to see how fast they climb up and down like it’s nothing.
On my way I’ve passed by many penguins nesting and laying on their belly, some in the snow others on their nest formed by the rockstones that they use to make it with.

Once on top you really get a magnificent view and with the sun coming out, the color pattern changed the landscape and made it look even more magical than this place already was. Danco Island I will never forget this place.

enjoying the view at Danco Island, not even half way the hike

enjoying the view at Danco Island, not even half way the hike

my snowshoes

my snowshoes

Penguins curious who 's comming to visit this time

Penguins curious who ‘s coming to visit this time

having a wow moment

having a wow moment

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icebergs

icebergs

Finally made it on top of Danco Island

Finally made it on top of Danco Island

expedition buddy's (Belgium-Germany Holland)

expedition buddy’s (Belgium-Germany Holland)

Penguins on their nests

Penguins on their nests

observing the magical view and the penguins

observing the magical view and the penguins

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Neko Harbour

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Neko Harbour was the 2nd continental landing, if you’re not out kayaking, it was your chance to set foot again on mainland Antarctica. I skipped kayaking and I did not regret it cause after climbing a mountain I had a great view over the place, a spectacular scenery with the glaciers calving. The boat in the distance looked like a toy compared to the mountains around.

Gentoo Penguins at Neko Harbour

Gentoo Penguins at Neko Harbour

Snow, ice, glaciers, clear water and the many Gentoo Penguins who welcomed us at Neko Harbour is just unforgettable, my favorite spot in Antarctica.

Here I still have my zodiac lifejacket on which is different then the one used for kayaking

Here I still have my zodiac lifejacket on which is different then the one used for kayaking

Penguin highway

Penguin highway

Penguins comming down hill from the Penguin highway

Penguins coming down hill from the Penguin highway

When I climbed that mountain many penguins were passing me by on the penguin highway. The penguin highway is the path in the snow made by penguins and only to be used by penguins to make themselves get around easier from one place to another, cause with snow being very unstable at some places, penguins just like humans, fall over and have it difficult to move around quickly.
We humans just follow sticks put in the snow by the expedition crew that mark the path we have to follow to reach the top of the mountain. Two sticks in form of a X  mean to stay at a distance, mostly because snow can be very deep at a certain points with crevasses, or its being used as a warning to stay at a distance not to disturb the penguins hatching eggs.

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glaciers at Neko Harbour

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red X means stay where you are, Penguins nesting place

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Feels like being on top of the world

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look how small the boat is compared with the mountain

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Some more pictures of the Penguins

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Penguin using the water as a mirror

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Penguins running to the shore

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Wandering albatros stole a penguin egg

Wandering Albatros stole a penguin egg