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?

 

Lord Howe Island Shootout 2019 Bigger and Better

June 1st – 11th 2019

This Lord Howe Island Photographic shootout event just got bigger and better. We now have options for wildlife and bird enthusiasts, snorkelers and water people and hard core divers alike. 3 different packages and 12 categories that you can compete for on land and in the water.

WIN Amazing Prizes!

Holiday Packages for 10 days including flights & Accommodation
Categories for Land based and underwater photographers
Attend Photo Workshops, with Scott Portelli
Awards Ceremony and Gala Dinner

 
Includes:
Return flights from Sydney
Accommodation
Workshops with our Hosts
Airport Transfers
Dinner on Arrival
Gala Dinner and Presentation Night
Dive and Snorkel Gear
Price: $4,200
DIVER’S PACKAGE:
10 dives around Lord Howe Island
1 night dive
Dive Guide
NON DIVER’S PACKAGE
8 guided walks with local expert Jack Shick
3 boat trips with local expert Jack ShickSNORKELER’S AND NON DIVER’S PACKAGE
6 guided snorkels
4 guided walks with local expert Jack Shick
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.

Categories (Maximum 25 Photos)

Land Based

  • Creative
  • Landscape
  • Wildlife/Birds
  • Surf
  • Aerial
  • Plants/flora

Underwater

  • Macro
  • Wide
  • Split shots
  • Black and white
  • Portrait

Portfolio

  • Portfolio (6 photos)

Shootout-Terms-and-Conditions

If you want to join us for the Lord Howe Island Shootout and hone your skills at our workshops, please email scott@scottportelli.com for more information.

heat run humpback whales tonga

Whales, whales and more whales

The 2018 Humpback whale season is about to kick off and as we get closer to seeing these majestic gentle giants, I can’t help but think of some of the truly amazing encounters we had last season. After 17 years taking people to swim with whales, I am still pleasantly surprised by the multitude of different behaviours I observe that have rarely been seen before. Last year we had baby whales licking their lips with their big frilly tongues, adult interactive whales that would spy-hop inches in front of us, false killer whales trailing the boat, pilot whale pods extending for kilometers across the ocean. So much to see in a season.

But I think the highlight would have been the 15 plus Humpback whales pursuing each other in what is called a ‘heat run’. The heat run is the ultimate wildlife encounter, multiple whales competing for a female which can last for hours or even days. Males show a multitude of behaviours while in a heat run: bubble netting, open mouth gulping, physical contact, loud acoustic sounds, it is truly one of nature’s great events. After 17 years I have documented some of the most common and unusual behaviour seen by Humpbacks in the region, but it is truly heart-thumping and adrenaline-pumping action to be a part of.

Check out the footage capturing this amazing behaviour above and below the surface:

antarctica south georgia tour promotional poster

ANTARCTICA 2018 – In the Footsteps of Shackleton (2 spaces left on this tour)

Photography Expedition in Antarctica 2018 with International Award winning wildlife and nature photographers, Scott Portelli and Joanna Lentini

TREKKING, PHOTOGRAPHY

This is an exclusive trip with a maximum of 10 guests  (2 spaces left on this tour)

Ever thought about getting up close and personal with Leopard Seals or Penguins, or just exploring the landscape and it’s natural wonders. Antarctica is the most remote destination on the planet. Abundant wildlife, massive icebergs the size of cities, spectacular untouched mountain ranges. whales glide by in search of food, penguins huddle together in the thousands and seals play in the nutrient rich southern ocean. It is a photographers paradise.

In March 2018 Award winning photographers Scott Portelli and Joanna Lentini are running a trekking and photography trip to Antarctica. Spend 17 days in Antarctica, the last remaining wilderness on the planet. The workshops are designed for all levels and if you are feeling brave you can grab a drysuit and get in the water for a different perspective.

We hope to explore fossil-rich islands, historic huts and set foot on the continent before retracing Shackleton’s heroic journey to save his men – first to Elephant Island, then on through waters where blue, sei and fin whales roam. South Georgia offers nesting albatross, mating elephant seals, the world’s largest king penguin rookeries and a visit to Shackleton’s grave.

  • Exploring the landscape surrounded by Icebergs and an abundance of wildlife
  • Trekking in the footsteps of Shackleton

Dates: 7 to 24 March 2018

Duration: 17 nights/18 days| Fly/Sail

Start: Ushuaia, Argentina

Finish: Santiago OR Punta Arenas, Chile (fly from Stanley, Falklands/Malvinas)

Ship: Polar Pioneer

Activities: Sea Kayaking (From US $1325pp), South Georgia Alpine Crossing (From US $1250pp), Snorkeling/Diving (US$975 Supplement)

Included: Accommodation on board Polar Pioneer, All meals, Daily cabin service, All shore excursions and Zodiac (inflatable boat) cruises, Port taxes and charges, All entry fees to historic landings sites, Lectures and educational and guiding services from our expert team, Access to our on board doctor and basic medical services, Complimentary custom-designed Polar Expedition jacket, Professionally produced voyage journal (one per booking), Free gumboot hire during the voyage, Luggage transfer from hotel in Ushuaia to Polar Pioneer on day of boarding, Transfer from Polar Pioneer to Stanley airport, including tour of Stanley, Post-voyage flight from Stanley to Punta Arenas OR Santiago (no reduced fare for finishing in Punta Arenas), Comprehensive pre-departure information.

 

Your Hosts:

Joanna Lentin

Joanna Lentini is an award-winning photographer and editor based in the greater New York City area. Joanna’s passion for the natural world and photography ignited from an early age and has led her to explore diverse environments around the planet—from the Arctic to the Coral Triangle.

Wildlife remains Joanna’s deepest passion, and her work both topside and underwater has taken her face to face with some of the planet’s most incredible creatures, ranging from sharks and crocodiles to polar bears and snow monkeys. Through her imagery she hopes to inspire a greater appreciation for the planet and its last wild places.

Joanna’s has contributed images and published articles for various print and online publications including: Sport Diver, Ocean Geographic, Dive Photo Guide, ScubaDiver AustralAsia, Dive Advisor, and ScubaDiver Ocean Planet. She has been awarded in several international photography competitions and was recently one of a few women awarded in the prestigious Wildlife Photographer of the Year photography competition.

Having lived in 4 countries across 3 continents, she has now visited 50+ countries, is a certified PADI Master Scuba Diver and Aquanaut, and is a member of the Ocean Artists Society. She holds a bachelors degree in Entrepreneurial Studies from Rider University, and is a graduate of the New York Institute of Photography.

Joanna-Lentini-guide Antarctica 2018

Scott Portelli

Scott Portelli is a Sydney based photographer who has traveled the world extensively photographing in some of the most remote destinations, including The Arctic, Antarctica, Falklands, Galapagos, Azores, Africa and the South Pacific.

Scott is an award winning wildlife, nature, aerial and underwater photographer. A member of the Australian Institute of Professional Photography (AIPP) he is regarded as a leading professional in his field.

In 2016 he was announced National winner of the Sony World Photography awards and in the same year awarded at the prestigious wildlife photographer of the year. He was recently awarded at the National Geographic Nature Photographer of the year, receiving an honorable mention.

With his experience in the Sub-Antarctic and Antarctic regions, he brings a wealth of knowledge to every expedition and ensures that each trip optimizes photographers chances to capture the best that the wildlife in the region has to offer. He teams up with one of the most accomplished wildlife and nature photographers, Joanna Lentin, to bring you an intimate experience in this amazing destination.

Scott-profile-Antarctica1

DECK CABIN PRICE PER PERSON
Deck 3 Triple, shared facilities US $14,300
Deck 3 Twin, shared facilities US $17,200
Deck 4, 5 Twin, private facilities US $20,790

Sea Kayaking (From US $1325pp)
South Georgia Alpine Crossing (From US $1250pp)

To register your interest to join us in Antarctica for this once in a life time experience, click here.

Pre departure information for this tour, click here

south-georgia-web-collage-penguins-seals-elephant-seals

Download Forms

Medical Form
Personal Details Form
Client Booking Form
Pre-departure information Snorkeling
Pre-departure information Scuba Diving

Poster-Antarctica-Tour-Page-seals-icebergs-underwater-photography

Expedition Highlights

  • Vast tabular icebergs in the Weddell Sea
  • Historic huts and whaling history
  • Attempt to land at Elephant Island
  • Fur seals, albatross & thousands of King penguins
  • Snorkeling option (surcharge applies)
  • Shackleton Alpine Crossing (surcharge applies)

Day 1 – Beagle Channel

Step aboard Polar Pioneer in Ushuaia in the late afternoon to a warm welcome, introductory briefing and an evening departure along the Beagle Channel with your shipmates.

Days 2 to 3 – Drake Passage

As we cross Drake Passage, we keep watch for giant petrels, wandering and black-browed albatross and our first icebergs. Fur seals and penguins pepper the sea surface as we approach our first landing in the South Shetland Islands.

Days 4 to 6 – Antarctica Peninsula

An autumn dawn greets us in spectacular Antarctic Sound where we may stop at towering Brown Bluff before pushing on into the Weddell Sea. There’s a strong fossil focus this time of year, as the pack ice movement may allow a continental landing and visits to the world-renowned fossil beds of Seymour, Vega and James Ross islands, and Nordenskjold’s Hut on Snow Hill Island.

Days 7 to 9 – Scotia Sea

So exposed is Cape Wild on Elephant Island, landings are rare, but we’ll try, if only to pay tribute to the man who’s leadership kept Shackleton’s men alive for four months while awaiting rescue. We keep watch for great whales while sailing the Scotia Sea to South Georgia.

Day 10 – South Georgia

We enter King Haakon Bay and attempt a ceremonial landing at Cave Cove, Shackleton’s first landfall before continuing up past Peggotty Bluff, where Shackleton, Worsley and Crean set off to cross the island.

Days 11 to 14 – South Georgia

While our “Crossers” negotiate Shackleton’s historic route, we immerse ourselves in one of the world’s greatest wildlife spectacles. King penguin rookeries half-million strong, chinstrap, gentoo and macaroni penguin colonies, wandering albatross on nests, beaches thick with elephant and fur seals. We hope to walk the final leg of Shackleton’s epic, from Fortuna Bay to Stromness, before visiting “The Boss’s” grave and whaling museum in Grytviken.

Days 15 to 17 – Scotia Sea

Crossing the Scotia Sea, we watch for whales and enjoy entertaining talks by our expedition team as we cruise back towards the Falklands Islands/Malvinas. On this leg we are usually travelling into the prevailing weather so it is difficult to estimate our arrival time in the Falklands.

Day 18 – Falkland Islands/Malvinas

Dawn greets us in the Falkland Islands/Malvinas capital, Stanley; where we bid farewell to Polar Pioneer. You have the option of either spending more time exploring the Falkland Islands or continuing on to Punta Arenas or Santiago, Chile.

Map of tour Antarctica 2018

Please note that all of our itineraries are at the mercy of weather conditions and not all landings are guaranteed. Our itineraries are flexible and will change voyage to voyage, allowing the best chance to make the most of surprising wildlife displays and unexpected opportunities.

 Antarctica tour poster - penguins seals albatross and icebergs

Download Forms

Medical Form
Personal Details Form
Client Booking Form
Pre-departure information Snorkeling
Pre-departure information Scuba Diving

 

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