Dream-Like Video Captures Minke Whale Gliding Beneath Antarctic Ice

By Jeanna Bryner

In what looks like a stereotypical hallucination of a whale floating beneath puffy clouds, rare footage reveals a very real minke whale swimming with sinuous grace beneath a blanket of floating ice chunks.

The dream-like whale video was captured by Regina Eisert, a marine mammal expert at the University of Canterbury, in New Zealand, during a recent Antarctic expedition. She was trying out a new underwater-camera prototype designed by Anthony Powell, an Antarctic filmmaker at production company Antzworks, only realizing later that she might have captured the first underwater video of a minke whale in sea ice in the Ross Sea, she said.

“The whole whale glides past — this is such a lucky shot,” Eisert said in a statement, referring to the footage.

hese black-and-white minke whales (Balaenoptera acutorostrata) can grow to be 33 feet (10 meters) long and weigh some 10 tons (9 metric tons), according to Antarctica New Zealand, the government agency responsible for carrying out New Zealand’s scientific and environmental-protection projects in Antarctica. Like other baleen whales, minke whales use sieve-like plates in their mouths to filter out tiny prey for food. In the case of minke whales, they filter out krill, which are small crustaceans near the bottom of the Southern Ocean’s food web.

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