An Incredibly Rare Encounter with a Spectacled Porpoise! – 19/1/24

I was guiding an expedition cruise to the Falklands, South Georgia and Antarctica. I had 100 guests with me for a private wildlife charter (dedicated wildlife trip) with Naturetrek, the company I work for. All guests are really keen on wildlife, so an artillery of cameras and pairs of binoculars are usually lined up at the front of the boat ready for anything that pops up!

On our stretch between the Falklands and SG, I saw an unusual fin ~2.5km ahead of us off the starboard bow. It was logging on the surface, not moving. At first I wondered if it was a shark as there was no upward/downward movement of the dorsal at all, perhaps it was a big fish??

I quickly snapped some photos and, just as it arched its back realised what it must be, a Spectacled Porpoise!!  With this large dorsal fin, the shape of a paddle, it was undoubtedly a male.

There are few records of this striking, yet rarely seen, cetacean, so I was ecstatic to find and record it (after squealing with delight to all those out on deck – it’s important to remain calm and professional in these moments of great scientific discovery).

It didn’t come back up, and the photo is the best view we got of it. It disappeared quickly!

– Sara Frost

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