South Shetland Islands

Ben Collen

The trip down to the South Shetland Islands and peninsular Antarctica has been spectacular.  In one day's travel, we came across upwards of 60 humpbacks, including mother and calves, some breaching, others feeding among the broken ice.  We have had to abandon a couple of potential landing sites due to high winds – with gusting winds over 40 knots, it’s just not safe to take a zodiac in. However, about 6 yesterday evening, as we started to move the ship to a sheltered spot to spend the night, we came across a pod of Orca.  The Captain turned the ship between the ice flows, and after about 5 minutes, the pod started coming to us. I scanned across the pod that I was watching (there were a couple close by) and in one scan counted 26 different blows – we estimated more than 50 Orca,
Iceberg seals
perhaps even higher.  Part of the pod came right at the boat, including a mother and calf.  They were Antarctic B type Orca; they have a rusty yellow/brown coloration due to a diatom that imbeds in them.  Phenomenal sight, just as the sun was going down.  Breathtaking. We are now travelling down Iceberg Alley (Antarctic Sound), having set up another camera today on the continent itself.  These are massive icebergs, many several hundred metres in length, which have broken off the ice shelf.

Select a blog

Artefact of the month

Every month one of the pieces held in ZSL’s Library and at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo will feature here as Artefact of the month.

Asia Conservation Programme

Get the latest on ZSL's conservation work in Asia.

B.U.G.S Blog

Find out more about life in our B.U.G.S exhibit

Remote Sensing in Ecology and Conservation

A new Open Access journal for research at the interface of remote sensing, ecology and conservation.

ZSL Shop

See the latest ranges, updates and special offers from our exciting new online shop.

Wild About Magazine

Excerpts from ZSL's award winning members' magazine.

ZSL London Zoo

A blog for lovers of ZSL London Zoo. Bringing you amazing animal facts and exclusive access to the world's scientific oldest zoo.

ZSL Whipsnade Zoo

Discover more about the UK's biggest zoo with our fun blog posts!

Discovery and Learning in the Field

Join the ZSL Discovery and Learning team as they venture out of the zoo and in to the wild.


Catch up on our latest Conservation Blogs


ZSL Whipsnade Zoo's elephant keepers give an insight into the daily goings on in the elephant barn.

Tiger conservation

Read about conservation of tigers in Asia.

Videographer Blog

One man is boldly going where no other ZSL videographer has gone before - the land of Mountain Chicken Frogs.

Wild Science

From the field, to the lab, catch up with the scientists on the cutting edge of conservation biology at ZSL’s Institute of Zoology.

Wildlife Wood Project Cameroon

The Wildlife Wood Project has been working in Cameroon since 2007 to encourage better wildlife management in logging concessions.

Penguin expedition blog

Updates from penguin conservation expeditions to Antarctica

Amur Leopard

Amur leopard conservation blog

Baby Giraffe Diaries

Meet ZSL Whipsnade Zoo's latest (and leggiest) arrival, a baby giraffe!

Biodiversity and Palm Oil

Follow the ZSL Biodiversity and Palm Oil team, based in Bogor, Indonesia.

Chagos Expedition

The Chagos marine reserve, designated in 2010 and currently the world’s largest no take marine reserve, is a sought-after spot for marine research.


Science blogs

Tsaobis Baboon Blog

Follow ZSL conservationists studying desert baboons in Namibia.