Arctic Orca Expedition 2017
Feb 07 2017
We’ve not long returned from our winter expedition to the arctic circle in search of orca, whales, wildlife, and aurora! We’ve endured everything from ice, snow, and an actual hurricane, to +8 degrees and the return of the sun. There’s never a dull moment with the weather, especially that far north, apart from perhaps a lack of vitamin D, we’ve all come through unscathed.
The weather is always a major talking point when going to sea in the arctic circle, however, the climate was certainly a more accurate topic for this year. The weather was generally warmer than we’ve ever seen before, with a period of widespread snow melt and temperatures consistently above +4 and even reaching +8. It seemed the jetstream was pushing north and firing low pressure’s between the top of the UK and Iceland straight for us. There was much less herring inshore than in previous years and fewer whales as a result. Some suggested that perhaps this was an effect of outgoing El Nino, however, there were some noticeable changes in the weather pattern. Of course, everything calmed down with cold weather, lovely sunshine, and flat seas as we left – but that’s another story!
All of our trips had a number of days with the orca but the opportunites for swimming were much fewer than in other years. For whatever reason, weather, orcas travelling too fast, or very young calves within the pod, or us finding them in darkness! The ideal situation is to find a pod feeding where we can observe in the water silently, but with less herring coming inshore meant we didn’t find feeding behaviour as much as we had in previous years. However, it’s always stunning to watch these amazing animals in the wild with many memorable close encounters with our boats and for the first time even sperm whales to round off our third week! See below for a highlights video from the trip!
Our base location is in the middle of the fjord meaning we can choose our direction depending on where the wind is coming from, it also means on stormy days we have lots of coastline to explore along with land based opportunities! Some of the examples can be shallow shipwrecks and extensive pristine maerl beds for snorkelling and free-diving, eagle and otter spotting, or exploring historic coastal defences or neighbouring islands. The base sauna was popular with some people spotting taking a break outside by rolling in the snow and of course keeping warm waiting for the northern lights to come out! Overall it was another great winter expedition with lots of memories and special experiences!
We’ll add some more images in due course, whilst we review this year and plan for next winters expedition! Look out for more details on social media along with seeing our webpage here, for future information.