The marine animals of the Southern Ocean are escorting us as we transit toward Antarctica on the blue whales voyage. Seals, sea lions, petrels, shearwaters and prions are regular visitors around our ship, the Explorer. The majestic Royal Albatross glide across the steep waves, their stark white bellies reflecting the low light at sunset.
With great excitement, this morning at about 58° S, we got our first detection of anthe Antarctic blue whale. Our acoustics team in the “sound lab” detected vocalisations at 26 Hz, typically Antarctic blue whales vocalise in the 20-80 Hz bandwidth, and with the characteristic up-sweep and corresponding down-sweep of our target species. We estimated there were about seven Antarctic blue whales somewhere in the distance. Like the singing of the fabled sirens of yore which lured sailors to disaster, these sounds draw us further southward.