2 Mar 2016

Whales and seabirds at the "End of the World"

Snow Petrel seemed to embody the mystique of Antarctica for us....

Snow Petrel - Pagodroma nivea

But there was plenty of other stuff to look at, too.  
Humpback Whale- Megaptera novaengliae

Gentoo Penguins - Pygoscelis papua

You'd think they would have seen enough cruise liners by now, but it seemed that all the penguins on the icebergs we approached were duty bound to scuttle for cover...

Scuttling Gentoos

Seals tended to just lounge around...

Crabeater Seals - Lobodon carcinophagus

Conscious that time was running out, perhaps, the most dedicated observers and photographers huddled at the front of the ship, seeking the next dark lump on the ice, and hoping it would be a “lifer” of some sort.  

"What's that lump on the ice floe ?"

Heading north, the volume of ice in view on the islands and the seas dwindled, but there was still plenty to look at. 
Gentoo Penguins - Pygoscelis papua

Feeding whales attracted seabirds, mainly because of the numbers of small prey fish they disturbed.

Humpback Whale- Megaptera novaengliae

Humpback Whale- Megaptera novaengliae - with Fulmars

Humpback Whale- Megaptera novaengliae - with Fulmars

Humpback WhaleMegaptera novaengliae - with Fulmars

Humpback Whale- Megaptera novaengliae

Wandering Albatross - Diomedea exulans

Southern Giant Petrel - Macronectes giganteus 

Southern Giant Petrel - Macronectes giganteus 

Light-mantled Albatross - Phoebatria palpebrata

Light-mantled Albatrosses - Phoebatria palpebrata

Southern Fulmars,  Cape Petrel

Antarctic Prion - Pachyptila desolata

Antarctic Prion - Pachyptila desolata

Great Shearwater - Puffinus gravis

Southern Royal Albatross - Diomedea epomophora
Southern Royal Albatross - Diomedea epomophora

Wilson's and Black-bellied Storm-petrels

The Drake Passage remained very calm  - described as “Drake Lake” by the staff ( a joke we passengers hadn’t heard before ). We arrived off Cape Horn earlier than scheduled, with a host of Black-browed Albatrosses circling.

Black-browed Albatrosses near Cape Horn

Chilean Post at Cape Horn

Black-browed Albatross - Thalassarche melanophris

White-chinned Petrel - Procellaria aequinoctialis

Black-bellied Storm-petrel

.Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego and the Beagle Channel

Then back to precisely where we had started....Ushuaia

We took a gazillion shots during our 19 days at sea, and I couldn’t show them all here. 


  1. Snow Petrel and Wandering Albatross are 2 truly iconic species..............

    Must have been an awesome trip, wonder how it ranks against some of the other great places you've been? Pretty near the top I'd say..........

    1. Stu. - great scenery, and some fine birds...hard to make comparisons, though, as usual.

  2. Magnificent. So many albatross. I'm yet to see one.

  3. I agree that Snow Petrel would embody the mystery of the Antarctic, although there is much more to delight the senses also. Actually when I was at the southern tip of Patagonia in Chile a couple of years ago a Snowy Sheathbill had been seen, but we were never able to find it. I think that would have given a kind of Antarctic satisfaction too.

    1. Yes....Sheathbills - if only for that association with seals and penguins - pass the "charisma test" !

  4. hank you for these wonderful photos and fascinating narration. Like Russell; I have yet to see an albatross.

    1. Thanks, John - but still, plenty of good seabirds around Alaska!

  5. 19 days of birding paradise. I envy you, John. It is a a whole different world there. Wonderful images, as usual.

    1. Thanks, Mun! Very different to HK, that's for sure....( although we did have a Humpback Whale here in 2007 or 2008! )