March represents a critical time for whales in Antarctic waters, as they feed on krill swarms to build energy stores for either a long migration north 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. This research adventure surveys 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.
The search includes elusive and cryptic minke whales in the far reaches and ice-choked passes and bays where they spend most of their time. "Killer whales", or Orcas, patrol the coastal waters for seals, smaller whales, and penguins that make up their diet. Of course, we will also participate in the 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 are most likely leopard seals at this time of year, so these locations will be of keen interest to seal enthusiasts.