Marine Mammals in Antarctica

Vavilov Cruise Ship
Vavilov
92 Passengers
Adventure Options

The Antarctic seas come alive with marine mammal life increasingly as the tourist season progresses. This special departure will have marine mammals as its key focus. 

Our standard team of onboard experts will be supplemented by the addition of a number of whale and seal experts, including Dr. Ari Friedlaender and Els Vermuelen, both of whom have extensive hands on experience researching and studying the whales of the Southern Ocean. 

March represents a critical time for whales in Antarctic waters as they feed on the vast krill swarms to build energy stores for either a long migration to tropical breeding grounds or to maintain their energy as they struggle to survive in the ice-choked waters that soon will encapsulate the region. 

For humpback whales, there is growing evidence that while many whales migrate, some remain in areas that remain ice-free for long periods of time due to warming climates. We will survey several of the bays that are the focus of long-term and unique research projects to determine how the abundance of whales changes throughout the course of the Antarctic summer. 

We will also search for the elusive and cryptic minke whale in the far reaches and ice-choked passes and bays where they spend most of their time. We will also look for killer whales as they patrol the coastal waters for seals, whales, and penguins that make up their diet. 

Our whale experts will also be joined by Addy Adoncello of the Taronga Zoo, who is one of the world’s foremost experts in Leopard seal behavior, having been the keeper of the world’s only 2 captive Leopard seals at her zoo in Sydney Australia. 

Our photographer in residence will also lead the charge on deck and in the zodiacs with helpful hints of how to ‘pan’ for a shot in motion. Sometimes taking photos of whales can be more challenging than finding them! 

Of course we’ll also have our usual discussions of other areas of interest in Antarctica with presentations on the bird and penguin life as well as Antarctic history. Where there are penguins, there will most likely be Leopard seals at this time of year so these locations will be of keen interests to seal enthusiasts.

Day 1 - Ushuaia

In the afternoon, board the Vavilov, our comfortable expedition cruise vessel in Ushuaia.

Days 2 to 3 - At Sea

Sail across the Drake Passage. As we cross these fabled waters, our on board naturalists will split their time out on deck looking for whales and being in the presentation room leading lively discussions about the marine life of the Antarctic. Crossing the convergence is an exciting event as we scan the waters for marine mammals feeding on the abundance of krill and other tasty morsels throughout these frigid waters.

Days 4 to 8 - Antarctic Peninsula

Upon our entrance to the Antarctic Peninsula we plan our route primarily based on typical marine mammal movements and activity for this time of year. With our knowledge of marine mammal feeding grounds we can pick and choose the areas in which to explore and the order which we do so. Based on weather conditions, we will explore the southern Gerlache Strait area and work our way in and out of the deep bays on this coast, looking for the typical hot spots as we go. 


We find at this time of the season the whales are more social and demonstrative, which leads to more exciting viewings from the ship and the zodiacs. We may also visit Deception Island and Whalers Bay, the site of Norwegian whaling station from 1912 to 1931. This site offers an historical view of whale exploitation a century ago. 

We’ll be sure to plan visits to some of Antarctica’s best known locations for magnificent scenery and spotting penguins and seabirds and even a nice hike or two.

Days 9 to 10 - At Sea

Taking time to reflect on the places visited and the experiences shared. Our onboard photographic experts will provide tips and tricks in managing digital photographs in our expansive multimedia room. We also keep our eyes peeled for marine live as we head back north towards Cape Horn. Commerson’s, Peale’s and Dusky dolphins are all potential entertainers as we continue our journey and watch from the comfort of the bridge.

Day 11 - Ushuaia

As we disembark the ship, we make the next steps towards our adventure home, or onwards to further journeys.

NOTE - Ari Friedlaender

Ari is a research scientist at the Duke University Marine Laboratory in Beaufort, North Carolina. Originally from Connecticut, Ari received his B.S. in Biology and Anthropology from Bates College in Maine, his M.S. in Marine Biology from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington and his PhD in Ecology from Duke University. His research focuses on using novel tagging and visualization technology to study the foraging ecology of marine mammals. Ari is most interested in understanding how climate driven changes in polar ecosystems affect the behavior of whales and seals. Ari has worked in the Antarctic since 1997, making 16 trips to date. Ari is involved in a number of other research projects around the world including work on blue, fin, humpback, minke, right, pilot, killer, and beaked whales. Currently, Ari is studying the distribution and movement patterns of humpback whales around the Antarctic Peninsula using satellite-linked tags. Ari sits on a number of international scientific research boards including the Southern Ocean Research Partnership and the Scientific Committee for Antarctic Research. Ari also lectures regularly to both the scientific and general public, and exhibits his photographs at galleries across the US. Ari recently was featured in the BBC's Ocean Giants natural history series and is working with the National Geographic Society on a feature documentary about humpback whales.

* Itinerary may be subject to change

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Per Person USD
Rates 2014-2015
Triple
Twin Semi Private
Twin Private
Superior
Shackleton Suite
One Ocean Suite
Photography, Kayak
Limited Availability

Free R/T Air Buenos Aires/Ushuaia
+Pre-Cruise Hotel (or $750 Discount)
$11,995
 
$13,695
 
$15,495
 
$16,295
 
$17,195
 
$19,495
 
Photography, Kayak
Very Limited Availability

Free R/T Air Buenos Aires/Ushuaia
+Pre-Cruise Hotel (or $750 Discount)
$12,595
 
$14,395
 
$16,395
 
$17,195
 
$18,095
 
$20,495
 
Camp, Photography, Kayak

Free R/T Air Buenos Aires/Ushuaia
+Pre-Cruise Hotel (or $750 Discount)
$6,795
 
$9,195
 
$9,995
 
$10,395
 
$10,795
 
$11,995
 
Photography, Kayak
Very Limited Availability
$5,595
 
$7,395
 
$7,895
 
$8,395
 
$8,695
 
$9,495
 
Photography, Kayak
Limited Availability
$13,895
 
$16,595
 
$18,295
 
$19,395
 
$20,095
 
$22,695
 
Camp, Photography, Kayak
$9,295
 
$11,995
 
$12,595
 
$13,295
 
$13,795
 
$15,295
 
Camp, Photography, Kayak
$7,895
 
$10,095
 
$10,595
 
$10,995
 
$11,595
 
$13,095
 
Photography, Kayak
Limited Availability
$13,895
 
$16,595
 
$18,295
 
$19,395
 
$20,095
 
$22,695
 
Camp, Photography, Kayak
Marine Mammals Focus
Whales and Seals
$6,795
 
$9,195
 
$9,995
 
$10,395
 
$10,795
 
$11,995
 
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Click on the tour dates in the left column to view a trip itinerary. Point MOUSE at Cabin Category to view DETAILED description.

Rates are per person, based on twin-share. Single supplement is 1.5 times the cabin rate except for Suites which are 2 times the cabin rate and is not available in Triple Share Category.

Adventure options must be pre-booked and paid for prior to start of the trip. Space is subject to availability. Some activities require experience.

Costs for options: Camping - Free of charge, Photography - Free of Charge, Kayaking – $795

Mandatory Emergency Evacuation insurance is required on all trips.

All trips subject to possible fuel surcharge.

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