18th.February, Antarctica, Cierva Cove, Gerlache Strait – Leopard Seals, Weddell Seals, Humpback Whales
I did not get up specially early, but when I did I was horrified to see thick mist and falling snow! There was a thin coating of snow on the deck and icicles on the railings. No views of shining Antarctic peaks surrounding the Cierva Cove where we were anchored. Nevertheless we set out as usual in the zodiacs wrapped in all our layers for a cruise round the bay. The snow covered icebergs had a beauty of their own and were appropriately enthused about by the ladies, but I had had other things in mind. Eventually a Leopard Seal was spotted on an ice floe and the boats gathered round it with cameras clicking. It took no notice of us other than occasionally raising its head for a desultory glance. Later one was seen in the water which provided a bit more action, but unfortunately still without visible teeth. The epitome of inaction was however reached towards the end of the tour by a basking Weddell Seal – assuming one can bask in falling snow.
Soon after we left the sheltered cove the weather cleared and became quite sunny over the waters of the Gerlache Strait, down which we were heading South to our next destination near Spigot Peak and Orne Harbour. Here Humpback whales were spotted and the ship actually turned round and stopped in order to be able to watch them as long as possible. A group was feeding on the krill and one picture I took shows the underside of the jaw of a whale, normally not visible. Otherwise the lighter coloured areas under the water are usually the fins. The whale watching is most exciting when a whale dives lifting the fluke in the air before it disappears.