Eight species of whales roam Antarctica’s waters, feasting in the austral summer on the krill and squid-rich waters before heading north again to breed and calve. Killer and bull Sperm whales are the toothed whales around here, while the baleen population includes the blue whale, largest of earth's animals. A century ago, whale populations were decimated, many species hunted to the edge of extinction. South Georgia’s whaling museum chronicles the trade, while records at whaling stations tell their own story: in the waters around South Orkney and Shetland Islandsalone, between 1911 and 1930 120,000 whales were caught. Numbers are now thankfully recovering, although regrettably hundreds of whales each year are still taken from Antarctica’s waters. The nutrient rich waters of the Drake Passage often offer excellent opportunities for whale-spotting, and look out around the Antarctic Peninsula’s frigid waters for Humpback, Minke, and Orca whales breaching from the icy depths, and sometimes inquisitively approaching your boat – an unforgettable close encounter at the edge of the world.

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