Summary : As the Antarctic summer comes to a close in March, migratory whale species like the humpback are very active, socializing and feeding in preparation for the long journey ahead. Resident whale species like the minke and orca are abundant, and you stand a good chance of encountering southern right whales and some of the larger pelagic species. Leopard seals are also very busy in March, hunting naive penguin chicks as they mature, develop their waterproof feathers, and make their first journeys to the sea.
On this very special voyage, join the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI*), the world's leading independent non-profit organization dedicated to ocean research, for a trip to Antarctica and a study on the feeding habits of humpback whales. Humpbacks migrate thousands of miles to their feeding ground in the Southern Ocean, yet virtually nothing is known about how these whales find the krill they consume. The more that can be learned through this study, the better the world can understand how global warming—which is impacting the distribution and volume of krill in the oceans—will affect large whale populations.
All guests on this voyage will have the opportunity to participate as the scientists onboard track whales and collect data. In addition to ongoing briefings on the study’s progress, a panel discussion will be held on 'The Future of the Antarctic.' The panel will feature the WHOI Team, whale expert Annette Bombosch, PhD, and special guest Peter Neill, the founding director of the World Ocean Observatory, a platform for education and information exchange on the health of the ocean. In addition, a British Broadcasting Channel (BBC) film crew will be on board to gather footage for their series, "Big Blue Live."
* WHOI is a trademark and service mark of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, all rights reserved.
Activities : Birding, Camping, Hiking, Kayaking, Photography, Triple/Quad Cabins
$9,995 to $21,995
Arrive in Ushuaia anytime today or take advantage of a complimentary pre-arrival night (up to 24 hours in advance) and stay at the Arakur Hotel & Resort. Today is all yours: explore some of the sights that Ushuaia has to offer, from museums to Argentinean leather markets, or continue relaxing at the lovely Arakur. Join an optional evening briefing to ask questions and meet some of your fellow travelers.
After a complimentary buffet breakfast, you're free to explore Ushuaia or unwind at the resort until your mid-afternoon transfer to the ship. Onboard, you'll be greeted by your expedition team and the ship's officers. A concise safety and orientation briefing will be followed by the captain's welcome dinner. After dinner, relax and take in the scenery on your early evening sail through the Beagle Channel, past Magellanic penguin, rock cormorant, and sea lion colonies.
As you make your way ever closer to the Great White Continent, your expedition team will be out on deck and on the bridge, looking for whales and dolphins as you travel south. They will prepare you with presentations on everything Antarctic—from wildlife to history, including helpful briefings on environmental regulations and expedition safety. The WHOI team will present an overview of their study's goals and methods. Eventually, you'll cross the Antarctic Convergence where you'll notice a distinct drop in temperature as you enter the waters of the Southern Ocean.
Those eager to participate in Citizen Science can take part in seabird sighting surveys or help collect salinity samples and weather data along the way. The length of the journey depends on sea conditions, but you should approach the South Shetland Islands on the evening of Day 4. The expedition team will keep an especially keen watch for pelagic whales as you approach the nutrient rich upwelling areas of the Continental Shelf.
Exploring the South Shetland Islands, you may visit Half Moon Island with its stunning backdrop or mountainous and glaciated Livingston Island. Or perhaps the ship will sail into an active volcano and you'll have an opportunity to take a dip in the relatively balmy waters that surround Deception Island. Bransfield Strait, once the site of an abandoned whaling station, offers an excellent chance to see whales that often return to its rich waters.
In the waterways of the Antarctic Peninsula, your expedition leader and captain will create a flexible itinerary based on weather, ice, and previous sightings to maximize your whale watching opportunities while also exploring some of the lesser-traveled areas of the Peninsula. They will aim for the most scenic bays and channels, with stops at penguin rookeries, seal wallows, bird colonies, and whale feeding areas, as well as sites of historic and scientific interest. The WHOI team will begin their research and give periodic updates on the study's progress.
Heading further south, you will explore the Gerlache Strait and its surrounding channels and islands. This may include trips to picturesque Neko Harbor, sheltered Paradise Harbor, the humpback whale-favored Wilhelmina Bay, the striking Lemaire Channel, the wildlife-filled Penola Straight or the majestic Neumayer Channel. You may stop at an active scientific base such as Poland's Arctowksi or Ukraine's Vernadsky, as well as an historic base such as U.K.'s Port Lockroy or Wordie House.
At this time of year most areas have amazing marine mammal viewing opportunities with Antarctic fur, Weddell, and crabeater seals often found hauled out to rest along with predatory leopard seals. Minke and humpback whales are frequent visitors during this season and orca sightings are also common.
During this time, all onboard experts will take part in a panel discussion entitled The Future of the Antarctic Ecosystem.
As you leave this magical place and make your way north, heading again across the Antarctic Convergence and the Drake Passage, the presentation series and wildlife spotting will continue. The WHOI team will give a final briefing on their field results. Sailing back to Ushuaia through the Beagle Channel, you will celebrate the conclusion of the expedition with a special slideshow.
A morning disembarkation in Ushuaia allows you to catch a flight to Buenos Aires or stay in Ushuaia for more sights and adventure.
Read this itinerary as a guide only; the exact route and program varies according to ice and weather conditions—and the wildlife you encounter. Flexibility is the key to the success of this expedition. ExpeditionTrips is not responsible for itinerary changes.
Mandatory Travel Insurance: All passengers are required to carry valid travel insurance. This insurance must contain medical and evacuation coverage. Cancellation and trip interruption insurance are strongly recommended as well. As any potential evacuation from Antarctica can cost up to $200,000, it is recommended that no policy carry less than this amount of coverage. Pre-departure forms will require information as to travel insurance carrier, policy number, and a 24 hour contact number. ExpeditionTrips strongly recommends that the travel insurance policy covers trip cancellation insurance, trip delay (interruption or after departure coverage), baggage and repatriation. ExpeditionTrips can assist U.S. residents with travel protection options. Other conditions may apply based on pre-existing conditions.
Get a taste of Antarctica as it was experienced by the early explorers. After a delicious dinner onboard, jump back in the Zodiacs and head ashore for a night of camping in Antarctica! Help to set up camp, then enjoy the sounds of the waves, the creaking of the glaciers, and perhaps even the blow of a passing whale. Anyone 12 and older can participate (with additional fee). Included: insulated sleeping bags, rated -20° F, a sleeping bag liner, one dry bag for a pillow and a change of clothes, 4-season mountaineering tents, a limited number of mountaineering bivy sacks, and insulated sleeping pads. Booking in advance is highly recommended. Please contact ExpeditionTrips for details.
The Citizen Science program is complimentary and open to anyone onboard who wants to help with real-world scientific research. From penguin surveys to measuring ocean salinity, there are several projects you can take part in. Participation availability can vary. On this voyage, follow the work of four scientists as they collect data about the feeding habits of humpback whales for the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Little is known about how these whales find the krill they consume, and gaining an understanding is important as global warming continues to impact the distribution and volume of krill in our oceans. There will be opportunities to participate and receive ongoing briefings on the data gathered as the study progresses. Please contact ExpeditionTrips for details.
Kayaking offers an opportunity to participate in the most intimate Antarctica encounters. Basic paddling experience is highly recommended. Participants should be capable of getting in and out of a kayak, doing a wet exit, and performing forward and back strokes. Maximum participants: 16 passengers per voyage. Included: kayaks (mix of tandems and singles), dry suits, paddles, personal flotation devices (PFDs), and Pogies (neoprene gloves). Booking in advance is highly recommended. Please contact ExpeditionTrips for details.
Get the most out of your photography and bring home memories that will last a lifetime. On every voyage there is a dedicated photography coach who is experienced in the unique weather and lighting conditions that make Antarctica the most special place on earth while sometimes challenging to capture on film. Everyone on board is welcome to take advantage of this included service. Please contact ExpeditionTrips for details.
The Antarctic Peninsula Whale Science Voyage with Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution* — Team Bios
Daniel Zitterbart, PhD | Team Leader, WHOI Whale Study Team
Dan will be leading this study. He is a specialist in the use of motion in biological systems and uses artificial intelligence to unravel behavioral traits. He will be responsible for the study's design, protocols, and experiment execution.
Kylie Owen, PhD | Whale Behavioral Specialist, WHOI Whale Study Team
Kylie is the team's whale foraging specialist. She will take the lead in finding the whales, following them, and assessing their behavior.
Joseph D Warren, PhD | Krill Speciliast, WHOI Whale Study Team
Joe is an expert in finding what whales eat. He will operate the sonar used to map krill distribution during the study.
Alessandro Bocconcelli, MS | Whale Tracking Technician, WHOI Whale Study Team
Alex has been involved with whale studies for more than 30 years and will be responsible for all of the technology used in this study.
Peter Neill, Founder W.O.O. | Special Guest
Peter is the Founder and Director of the World Ocean Observatory, a web-based place of exchange about the ocean and its relationship to climate, fresh water, food, energy, health, security, economic development, policy, governance, and cultural traditions.
Annette Bombosch, PhD | Polar Latitudes Marine Mammals Specialist, WHOI Guest Investigator
Annette studied humpback habitats in the Southern Ocean for her PhD, and has been part of the Polar Latitudes Expedition Team since 2014. She is a Citizen Science Coordinator and will lead the communication of the team's scientific methods and results to the guests.
In addition, a film crew from British Broadcasting Channel (BBC) will be on board during this trip to gather footage for their series, "Big Blue Live."
One pre-voyage hotel night at the Arakur Ushuaia Resort and Spa; transfer from the Ushuaia airport to the group hotel (if arriving on Day 1 of the itinerary); transfer from the group hotel to the ship for embarkation; group transfer from ship to airport, hotel in Ushuaia, or central location following disembarkation; cabin accommodations and meals aboard the ship; scheduled landings and excursions; 24/7 complimentary coffee, tea, and hot chocolate; welcome/farewell cocktail; Citizen Science program; complimentary house beer/wine/soft drink with dinner; WiFi from the public computers in the library; 100-minute Wi-Fi card (for use on your personal device); daily international news service; digital voyage log; gear on loan (a pair of boots); and a waterproof jacket (yours to keep). Owner's Suite, Penthouse, Veranda, Deluxe, and Promenade categories: champagne and chocolates on arrival, an en suite Nespresso machine (available on request), and a complimentary mini-bar. Inclusions subject to change without notice.
Any airfare or travel expenses associated with arrival in Ushuaia or Puerto Madryn; transfer from airport to group hotel, unless arriving on day 1 of the itinerary; pre- or post-voyage expenses in Ushuaia or Puerto Madryn; laundry and personal expenses incurred on board; alcohol and soft drinks (except as listed in the inclusions); onboard communication charges such as phone calls; Wi-Fi from personal devices in excess of 100 minutes provided; staff gratuities; fuel surcharge (may apply in the event of significant fuel price increases).
* WHOI is a trademark and service mark of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, all rights reserved.