Leopard Seals and Orcas in Antarctica
antarctica 2053

Leopard Seals and Orcas in Antarctica

Peak Season:
January – February

Antarctica

Charter Length:
21 Days

8 – 10 Explorers

Expedition Overview

Antarctica’s glacial beauty of towering snow-capped mountains with glistening ice formations ranging from blue to white, makes this expedition to the seventh continent one of life’s great experiences.

Aided by technical support onboard the Hans Hansson, Amos conducts dramatic open water dives along the walls of grounded icebergs. We explore to find the Leopard seals hunting ground in uncharted inlets and bays. Our chances increase dramatically since we are allowed and able to stay for many days at any promising location. Since the small vessel has very minimal impact on the environment, we are free to move everywhere. We also invest a few days in search of Orcas, following them to see if we are lucky to witness this highly-capable species execute their signature hunting maneuvers.

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Expedition Leader

Amos Nachoum is a distinguished figure in wildlife and underwater photography, with a remarkable career spanning over four decades. His unique ability to blend exploration and artistry has captured the attention of audiences worldwide, with his work being prominently featured in esteemed publications such as National Geographic and The New York Times.

His talents have earned him numerous accolades, including the prestigious BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year award, received twice in recognition of his unparalleled skill and commitment. Amos is the founder of Big Animals xpeditions, inviting adventurers to join him on extraordinary journeys to witness the majesty of wildlife in both marine and terrestrial environments.

His 2019 documentary, “Picture of His Life,” highlights his relentless pursuit of excellence and undying passion for wildlife photography. It chronicles his quest to photograph a swimming polar bear in the Canadian Arctic, showcasing his ability to connect with nature’s most magnificent creatures.

Joining Amos on an expedition transcends the ordinary adventure; it is a profound learning experience, an opportunity to immerse oneself in the beauty of the natural world, under the guidance of a master photographer. His work serves as a powerful reminder of the importance of preserving the planet’s incredible biodiversity. Amos Nachoum’s expeditions are a celebration of wildlife, a journey of discovery and appreciation, from the depths of the oceans to the far reaches of the mountains.

Location

Antarctica

Sample Itinerary

February 22, 2021
Group assembles in Puntarenas Chile, recommended to arrive one day earlier

February 23
We fly to Antarctica, private 2 1/2 hour flight to King George Island, including all our luggage, no extra fee all included. Upon arrival, we board the vessel and start our cruising and diving

February 23 – March 10
See Below for Destination

March 10 or 11
Depending on the weather pattern, we leave and start cruising back to Port Williams, Chile.
On arrival we transfer for a flight to Puntarenas and then stay overnight at local hotel

March 15
Depart Chile to your next destination

Conditions

Temperature
Water 28 – 34°F (-2 – -1°C)
Land 10 – 40°F (-12 – 4°C)

Visibility
100+ feet (30+ meters)

Experience In Pictures

Previous Accommodations

85′ Live-aboard expedition dive boat, Hans Hansson

Included

  • 21 days and 20 nights of travel aboard Hans Hanson
  • Airfare from Punta Arenas, Chile to King George Island, Antarctica
  • All shore excursions and activities on zodiacs
  • All diving services with tanks and weights provided
  • Photography presentation and instruction
  • Miscellaneous service taxes and port charges
  • All meals
  • Expedition leader

Excluded

  • International and domestic flights
  • Overnight lodging in Ushuaia, Argentina
  • Alcohol and soft drinks (soda)
  • Land travel arrangements
  • Passport and visa expenses
  • Government arrival and departure taxes
  • Additional costs incurred due to independent travel arrangements
  • Baggage, cancellation, and personal insurance (all strongly recommended)
  • Excess baggage charges on all flights
  • Single occupancy
  • Unused part of the itinerary
  • Personal charges such as laundry, fishing, or telecommunication charges
  • Gratuities (customary for stewards and service personnel; we will provide guidelines)

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More Details

Antarctica’s glacial beauty of towering snow-capped mountains with glistening ice formations ranging from blue to white, makes this expedition to the 7th continent one of life’s great experiences. Its geography is topped by the unique behavior of millions of penguins consisting primarily of four species: adélie, gentoo, chinstrap, and the less commonly sighted emperor penguins. These flightless birds are challenged throughout their life by Antarctica’s frigid elements and the imminent danger of one voracious predator, the leopard seal.

Our Antarctica expedition is specifically timed to coincide with the fledging of penguin chicks when these young birds first venture out from the warm comfort under their parents’ chests. It is a period when the chicks begin to explore the frigid water to learn swimming and feeding skills. Unlike their clumsy waddle on land, penguins are adept swimmers. Once they depart, food deprived adults venture into open water to hunt fish for themselves and their chicks.

The timing is perfect to observe one of Antarctica’s only predators, the leopard seal, feed on penguins. Posing motionless in shallow bay, almost appearing like a harmless rock, the spotted seals wait patiently in shallow water for the opportunity to devour the young penguins. We only recently discovered that the leopard seal does not solely dominate the food chain.

Places We Plan To Visit
  • Trinity Island: gentoo penguins
  • Enterprise: shipwreck, whale bones
  • Whilelmina Bay: humpback, Killer whales
  • Guerlache/Neumayer: killer whales, humpback
  • Port Lokcroy, Rosenthal Islands: leopard seals eating chinstrap penguins
  • Rosenthal
  • Pitt Island, Booth Island, Port Charcot, leopard seals feeding on gentoo penguins
  • Lemaire Channel, Paradise Bay, Errera Channel, Cuverville: leopard seals feeding on gentoo penguins, crabeater seals
  • Guerlache Stait, tracking Killer Whales
  • Fournier Bay: humpback feeding — bubble netting, lunge feeding
  • Two Hummock or Davis Island, Bransfield Strait
  • Deception and South Shetland
  • Pleneau Bay: iceberg graveyard
  • Peterman Island: leopard seal feeding and penguins swimming
  • Elephant Island: checkout dive. Depending on which way the weather is going there are good sites all around Elephant island. Do as much zodiac / snorkeling as possible after the dive
  • Yankee Harbor: (50/50 for diving but very nice place for walking in wildlife. leopard seals feeding on penguins.  Long sand pit for walking long distances.
  • Cierva Cove: very good for diving, Leopard Seal predation. Penguins
  • Gerlache Passage: very good for Orcas and Whales
  • Wilhermina Bay:  many whales
  • Foyn Harbour/Enterprise Island: shipwreck very nice for diving/snorkeling. Kayaking.
  • Port Lockroy: very good for leopard seal feeding on penguins, diving with whale bones, visit to the post office/souvenir store/museum
  • Dorian Cove: leopard seals feeding on penguins, visit to 2 historic huts. Nice for walking long distances.
  • Peltier channel: leopard seals and beautiful views.
  • Cuverville Island: penguins and diving with Icebergs — this place is beautiful full of icebergs. A lot of action happens here, including whales swimming in the bay, weddel seals, crabeater seals, leopard seals. Penguins swimming everywhere. Good place for snorkeling and diving, very protected, very clear waters, nice beach, nice little island in the middle of the bay. Both shallow and deep waters for diving
  • Paradise Bay: very good for whales. Amazing views and landscapes.
  • Pleneau: good for penguins
  • Graveyard of the Icebergs: Beautiful place for photography
  • Port Charcot: penguin colony
  • Lemaire Channel: good for Orcas, landscape, amazing views of narrow channel
  • Deception Island Baily Head: if weather is good for landing on beach, visit to chinstrap penguin colony. Inside the volcano visit to Whalers Bay, hot springs.
  • Neumayer channel: nice views and landscapes, whales.

Workshop Video