Orcas in Norway – Underwater & Under Northern Lights

Norway is a country famous for its beauty – dramatic fjords, soaring mountains and of course the infamous northern lights. What is less well known are the visiting orcas, the largest gathering of its kind in the world. In January this year, I joined Waterproof Expeditions on board the cosy M/V Malmo to experience the orcas for myself.

 

 

Visiting schools of herring entice the orcas into the fjords every year between November and February. Around this time there are also many large groups of humpback whales, and it’s also possible to encounter white-tailed eagles and the northern lights.  At this time of year, the average temperature is a refreshing -3° C,  and the water usually a much warmer 5° C, so it’s not an expedition for the faint-hearted. Once you see an orca under the water though, all thoughts of cold disappear in the magic of the moment (the specialised dry suits also help). The behavior of orcas here in Norway, resulting from the spring-schooling herring & mackerel, makes it one of the best places in the world to encounter these incredible ocean predators.

The daylight hours were spent following the herring schools and seeking interactions with the whales, wherever we found them we suited up and went to get a closer look under the water. The nights were spent listening to informative talks onboard the M/V Malmo, and of course photographing the northern lights. The M/V Malmo is a historical expedition yacht, a legitimate piece of maritime history built in 1943 (but renovated to be comfortable for our adventures). Spending a week on the boat like this is a good way to ensure encounters with the whales.

As with all wildlife expeditions, you never know what to expect. So much is dependent on weather conditions, and of course the behaviour of the animals you hope to encounter. Orca are particularly hard to see underwater, despite being found in every ocean in the world. The often misnamed ‘killer whales’ are in fact a large dolphin, and have never been known to harm a human in the wild (although in captivity, confined to small pools, is another story). While feeding in Norway they sometimes work together, herding herring to the surface in a tight ball and then slapping and stunning them with their tails. This ‘carousel feeding’ is just one example of an incredibly intelligent animal working together in close-knit family groups. A pod normally consists of 5-30 whales, led by females and with a defined social hierarchy. Each family group has its own dialect (varied language) and often unique feeding habits.

Norway has a history of adventure – home to renowned explorer Amundsen (the first person to reach the South Pole), birthplace of skiing, and with a law that protects people’s rights to roam & to wild camping (the Allemannsretten). Unfortunately, it’s one of few countries in the world that continue to hunt whales, despite the International Whaling Commissions ban on whaling globally. The good news is that supporting industries like this, which prove that a whale is much more valuable alive than dead, help push to end Norway’s whaling industry.

This trip was an incredible wildlife encounter set against an amazing backdrop. After a lot of time spent in the warm waters of Tonga with humpback whales, this was a completely unique experience for me.  I’m looking forward to going back next year!

 

orcas norway promotional image scott portelli

Want to join an orca expedition?

 

Ship crashing through huge waves on the way to Antarctica in the Southern Ocean on tour with Scott Portelli

Expedition Sub-Antarctic Islands – Snares, Auckland, Campbell and Macquarie

Less than 100 people visit these Sub-Antarctic Islands each year and they have some of the most amazing
landscapes, wildlife, history and hidden secrets of the past. An era of exploration a century ago put these
places on the map (just barely) but very few people have even seen these islands, let alone set foot on them.
A journey that starts in Dunedin NZ and follows the voyage of an Aussie and New Zealander to some of
the most untouched reaches of the world, the Subantarctic islands, including Snares, Auckland, Campbell and
Macquarie Island.

Imagine standing on Macquarie Island surrounded by a million pairs of King Penguins or walking into
the past as you enter the first explorer’s huts, or bearing witness to the harshest weather conditions on the
planet as the southern ocean pounds the coastline for returning penguins and seals.

king penguin colony with chicks and mountains on sub-antarctic islands

 

December sees Matt Draper & myself embarking on the trip of a lifetime, to film in one of the most amazing places on the planet. Thanks to Lenovo our major sponsor and the support of so many amazing brands, we are preparing for the rough seas, rugged environment and technology needs that go hand in hand with any expedition to this remote part of the world.

 

Ship crashes through huge waves on the way to Antarctica & the sub-Antarctic islands

Thanks for all the support from:

Lenovo – https://www3.lenovo.com/au/en/
Aquatech Imaging Solutions – https://aquatech.net/
HEC’s Stealthscreen wetsuits – https://www.hecsaquatic.com/
Paddy Pallin Outdoor Clothing & Equipment – http://www.paddypallin.com.au/
Australian Geographic – http://australiangeographic.com.au/
Olympus Australia – https://www.olympus.com.au/

Scott Portelli takes a selfie on a sub-Antartic island

 

 

King penguins at sunset by wildlife photographer Scott Portelli

Just announced, two new Falklands itineraries for 2018/2019

I have just released two new Falklands itineraries for November 2018 and January 2019,

These specialist itineraries are designed to maximise your time with some of the most unique wildlife on the planet.

The Falkland Islands located in the South Atlantic Ocean off South America are the perfect destination to experience the wonders of nature and wildlife; an unpolluted environment with fantastically clear blue skies, seamless horizons, vast open spaces and stunning white sand beaches.

 

Tour 1 – 3rd – 17th November 2018

  • Sea Lion Lodge
  • Weddell Island
  • Pebble Island
  • Volunteer Point
  • Cape Dolphin

Tour 2 – 16th – 26th January 2019

  • Volunteer Point
  • Sea Lion Island
  • Bleaker Island
  • Saunders Island
  • Carcus Island

Falkland Islands map showing the new Falklands Itineraries

Contact us for more details.

Lord Howe Island 2nd Annual Underwater Shootout Event 2018

 June 2nd – 11th 2018

Lord Howe Island’s Annual Underwater Shootout Event. 

WIN Amazing Prizes!

Dive Packages for 10 days including flights & Accommodation
Categories for Amateurs & Professionals
Attend Photo Workshops, Awards Ceremony and Gala Dinner

Includes:
Return flights from Sydney
10 nights accommodation at Leanda Lei Apartments
Return airport transfers
10 dive package around Lord Howe Island
2 night dives
All dive gear
Refreshments in between dives
Morning tea at the Museum to kick off the event
Gala Dinner at the Golf Club to conclude the event and announce the winners
Price: $3300 
Workshops:
Attend workshops with Scott Portelli to learn more about your photography or tweak what you already know. Workshops will include practical and in classroom techniques.
Prize categories
Wide
Macro
Black & white
Video (under 2 mins)
Endemic species
Split (Over/under shot)
Portraits
Behaviour
Portfolio
Creative/fine art

Shootout-Terms-and-Conditions

If you want to join us for this underwater shootout event and hone your skills at our workshops, please email scott@scottportelli.com for more information.

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