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Since 2011 I have worked with One Ocean Expeditions either as an artist in residence, or as a naturalist and guide on a number of trip to Antarctica, South Georgia and the Falkland Islands.

 

Mostly it has been on board the Akademik Ioffe, one of three ships deployed to the Antarctic each season by OOE.

 

However, this season (2019) due to complications in the OOE charter agreement with the ship's owners my Antarctic season has been cancelled!

 

The Akademik Ioffe at anchor in AntarcticaThe Akademik Ioffe at anchor in Antarctica

The Falkland Islands, South Georgia & Antarctic Peninsula
8th - 20th November 2016

Antarctica - Off The Beaten Track
20th November - 8th December 2016

Fin whales feeding surrounded by a mass of seabirds - mostly Antarctic prions, blue petrels, black-browed albatrosses and smaller storm petrels.Fin whales feeding surrounded by a mass of seabirds - mostly Antarctic prions, blue petrels, black-browed albatrosses and smaller storm petrels.

Over the four weeks of the two trips encounters with whales happened almost every day.

In the open ocean and closer in to the Antarctic continent we came across fin whales especially - some days huge numbers.  One morning there were perhaps 18 - 20 feeding, packed quite close and travelling in the same direction heaving at the surface through heavy seas their huge blows streaking downwind.  All the while around the leviathans were steams of prions and petrels and there were other groups of birds gathering in rafts to feed on the spillage left in the whales’ wake.

 

The number of whales grew until it seemed every horizon was alive with blows and at the end of an hour or more there were reckoned to be over 100 whales in all.  Every so often the more pronounced sickle-shaped dorsal fin of sei whales swept through the throng of fin whales.  And for a long moment the enormous sweep of a blue whale’s back rolled through the ocean before the tiny tell-tale dorsal fin  swept into view and was gone just as quickly.

An abundance of ideas for studio work came from that one day - one I shall never forget

(left) A white-headed petrel passing a group of fin whales.  

What was visually  exciting about this particular joint encounter of mammal and bird were the harmonies in colour and form.  The characteristic dark angular arrow pattern across the wings and back of the pterodroma petrel mirrored the dorsal fin of the razorback* whale.

(* old whalers name for the fin whale)

Over the four weeks of the two trips encounters with whales happened almost every day.

In the open ocean and closer in to the Antarctic continent we came across fin whales especially - some days huge numbers.  One morning there were perhaps 18 - 20 feeding, packed quite close and travelling in the same direction heaving at the surface through heavy seas their huge blows streaking downwind.  All the while around the leviathans were steams of prions and petrels and there were other groups of birds gathering in rafts to feed on the spillage left in the whales’ wake.

The number of whales grew until it seemed every horizon was alive with blows and at the end of an hour or more there were reckoned to be over 100 whales in all.  Every so often the more pronounced sickle-shaped dorsal fin of sei whales swept through the throng of fin whales.  And for a long moment the enormous sweep of a blue whale’s back rolled through the ocean before the tiny tell-tale dorsal fin  swept into view and was gone just as quickly.

An abundance of ideas for studio work came from that one day - one I shall never forget