By late January there’s a noticeable night. Humpback whales have been around since the start of summer but have been completely occupied with eating and putting on weight. By now they are satiated and perhaps even getting a bit bored so they are likely to view people in small boats as a welcome distraction.
Whale watching in Antarctica
is very special. It’s not just the backdrop and the chance for complete silence to hear their every breath. The sheer number of whales can result in each boat being approached by one or two whales who may spy hop to see who were are, do some “bubble netting” to catch krill, apparently oblivious to our presence, or simply swim around and under our vessel holding eye contact as it does so.
By now the penguin colonies are noticeably emptying. This is a trying time for penguins. The chicks go through embarrassing stage, the equivalent of human acne, where their down come out in tufts revealing the waterproof adult feathers underneath. Now the chicks can swim and feed themselves their parents must undertake their own moult, standing on the beach and starving as new feathers replace old – they too are not waterproof until the process is complete.