It was another gorgeous day in Antarctica and like much of our time down there, when things happened, they happened in a spectacular fashion. A whale breaching is a rare sight, a whale breaching for 40 minutes and treating 107 spectators to a show is downright unheard of.  Just when we thought the day couldn’t get any better, we had the honour of watching this humpback whale breach over and over again beside our ship The Sea Spirit.


A humpback whale breaches in Antarctica

Much of the staff had never seen something like this before and it was a special moment to see the excitement between both the passengers and the expedition team from Quark Expeditions. Expedition leader Shane stated over the PA that he had only witnessed a whale breaching for this long once before and other team members stated that this was a first for them as well.

Nobody knows why a whale breaches. It take a tremendous amount of energy and it is normally performed by a calf. This whale had its nearby. It could be to burn off extra energy, it could be to relieve a scratch on its back, whatever it may be it is a beautiful spectacle to see.

We were honoured to have moments like this regularly during our time in Antarctica and we were humbled by the beauty and power of nature that we witnessed every day.


Check out Quark Expeditions for planning your own Antarctic Expedition.


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    1. debndave Post author

      It truly was. I hear that you can see whales breaching a lot in Hawaii, luckily we have a trip planned there soon, so you never know, we may be able to witness it again. No worries if we don’t though, this fulfilled our wildest dreams.

    1. debndave Post author

      That’s awesome Stephanie. This was our first time seeing a whale breach. We have caught a fluke and a flipper and a back but this took us off guard. We never thought we’d be lucky enough to witness this.

    2. debndave Post author

      It’s an amazing thing to see isn’t it. I’m glad that you’ve had the chance to experience seeing something like this as well. We’ve decided that everyone should at least once in their lives. It makes you feel giddy with excitement.

    1. debndave Post author

      Wow, thanks Andi. That means a lot. I was really happy with this shot as everything just fell into place. The backdrop, the scenery, the colours of the water and the sky and oh yeah, a whale breaching right in front of me:) AWesome!

    1. debndave Post author

      Hi Johh, I have to admit, I think that our entire voyage in the Antarctica was an incredibly lucky voyage. We had great weather, amazing people, a super expedition team, we saw everything that we wanted to see, we got to kayak 8 times and we even were treated to a real Drake Passage experience on the way home. (Yes, a real Drake crossing is terrible, but what an experience to remember and write home about) this whale breaching was the icing on the cake.

    1. debndave Post author

      That is definitely what we said. We are so lucky to be able to do this for a living, we have many once in a lifetime moments and we never take them for granted. They are always just as exciting as the last.

    1. debndave Post author

      Thanks Randy, you picke the right word, it really does feel like we accomplished something in our lives to be able to witness this…even though we know we did nothing but be in the right place at the right time:)

  1. Andrea

    Wow – that is a rare sight! When we went whale watching in New Zealand we only saw the tops and tales of the whales. And what an incredible backdrop!

    1. debndave Post author

      Hi Andrea, that is what we saw in New Zealand. A whale slumbering along except we were treated to some orcas playing. In Alaska we did manage to see a couple of flukes, but for the most part, we had only seen these giants floating in the water. To see them burst out is incredible.

    1. debndave Post author

      Hi Christy, it is actually rare for them to breach for so long. Whales do breach occasionally but to see one keep on doing it for 40 minutes is a very rare sight. As I said, our expedition leader had only seen this happen once before in all his years of running expeditions around the world and much of the staff had never seen a whale have so much energy for so long. We were so lucky to witness it, the whole boat was a buzz with energy all afternoon because of it.

  2. Laurence

    I saw whales breaching off the Australian coast. Far off the coast. So really I saw a lot of distant splashes. This is a lot more impressive!

    1. debndave Post author

      This was amazing how close the whale was. We didn’t even have to worry about a zoom lens, even though Dave was using one for this shot. I have some amazing video that I can’t wait to edit too.

  3. Bret @ Green Global Travel

    Great shot, guys! I HIGHLY recommend Hawaii if you’re an avid whale watcher. I’ve been to the Big Island 3 times now, and seen whales fairly close every single time. You should also get to see Bryde’s Whales on your trip to the Galapagos.

    1. debndave Post author

      Thanks Bret, we’re heading to Hawaii this year (possibly more than once) so we’ll hopefully be able to see them, we’ve heard that it is an awesome place for whale spotting and activity. Ooh, can’t wait to see Bryde’s Whales in Galapagos. Now I am going to go look up what Bryde’s whales are:)

  4. Cam

    Holy Awesome Batman! What incredible timing. The whale did a great job positioning itself in perfect frame with that gorgeous peak!

    1. debndave Post author

      Thanks Cam. We were so lucky because the whale honestly kept breaching for 40 minutes. We’re putting out a post about the experience with video and more photos. Truly incredible.

    1. debndave Post author

      We have to admit we have felt the same way. Both in New Zealand and Alaska we were sort of ho hum about whale watching, but here in Antarctica it is taken to a whole new level. The whales are active and there are so many. With that kind of landscape in the backdrop, it is out of this world.

  5. walkingon travels

    Wow! I have only ever seen a humpback breech once and that was in Maui. There the males do it to show off for the ladies they are trying to impress. It was really far away though and most people on our boat missed it. This site is spectacular and you suddenly have me thinking we should pack up the family and head down to Antartica, something I never thought I would say (I hate the cold.)

  6. The Time-Crunched Traveler (Ellen)

    This photo is incredible. Thanks so much for sharing! We’ve seen humpback whales off the coast of Cape Cod, Massachusetts. It was one of the most breathtaking experiences in our lives, being up so close to such incredible — and huge! — animals in their own environment.

    1. debndave Post author

      That sounds like an amazing experience. We’ve never been to Cape Cod, I’d love to go one day. So true, to witness wildlife in their natural habitat is like nothing on earth.

  7. James Shannon

    The epic mountain in the background is the perfect backdrop for the whole episode that you had the privilege of experiencing … hope to see Antarctica like you guys someday soon!

    1. debndave Post author

      Thanks Michael, and wait until you see what’s coming next. We have kayaking, penguins, camping, the Gerlache Straight, oh so many amazing moments.

    1. debndave Post author

      Dave and I were talking earlier in the trip how we would never see a whale breach. We thought it was such a rare thing that we decided that it wasn’t going to happen. Imagine our surprise when they announced that there was a whale right outside our boat breaching away.It was magnificent.

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