Toothed Whales on Tour in Antarctica


Orcas are found in three Antarctic locations: along the Lemaire Channel off the Antarctic Peninsula, on the other side of the peninsula in the Weddell Sea, and near pack ice in the Ross Sea. February and March are the most predictable months to spot orcas. Southern Explorations’ eleven to thirteen-day Antarctic’s Weddell Sea and twelve to fourteen-day Crossing the Antarctic Circle cruises are two tour options that travel to areas where orcas are found.

Southern bottlenose whales may be seen near the pack ice of Antarctica and in waters off South Georgia, South Orkney Islands and the Falklands. The longest Antarctica cruises that Southern Explorations offers, the sixteen to twenty-four-day Antarctic Explorer cruise, visits both South Georgia and the Falklands during their travel to Antarctica.

Some beaked whale species inhabit the oceans that surround Antarctica. Though believed to be in the vicinity, the Arnoux’s beaked whale is an uncommon sight on Antarctica tours because it inhabits deep waters and is more likely to be seen off the shores of South Africa. Most of what little is known about the species has been learned from strandings. If seen at all, this species will be around South Georgia or the South Shetland Islands. Three of Southern Explorations’ Antarctica tours, ranging from ten to twenty four days, visit the Shetland Islands.

Long-finned pilot whales may be seen in the waters off South Georgia in March. They are also found near sea ice and around sub-Antarctic islands between South Africa and Australia.

Hourglass dolphins which travel further south than any other dolphin species may be encountered during travel to Antarctica. During the summer months, they may be found at the edge of the pack ice in Antarctica and off the Falkland Islands. The species is fascinating to watch because it travels in groups of over a hundred and is likely to swim near vessels.