22nd November 2015
Whales! Somewhere in the back of my mind I had hoped to see whales, but never quite believed it would happen. Things always happen when you least expect it, eh? My daughter Anna and I were relaxing in our cabin when the ship’s director Kala’s measured voice came over the AV. ‘We have spotted some whales at stern and will be turning the boat to have a closer look.’ Anna was up on deck before she could grab shoes and socks. I followed, in my own time.
The sea was calm, and there, right beside the boat, was a hump back whale, turning on its side to reveal its white underside. A feeling welled up inside me, something close to the feeling of protectiveness one feels looking at a newborn child. A good half an hour, we must have watched. There may have been five or six whales in the pod, blowing and creating perfect arcs with split tail-fin finishes.
What privilege to dip momentarily into the lives of these grand creatures, and how good to know that these waters surrounding South Georgia are now a sanctuary for them.
Only yesterday we visited Stromness whaling station, where Shackleton completed his journey across the mountainous and uncharted island of South Georgia. Then, in 1916, Stromness was a bustling community built around the lucrative extraction of oil from whales.