6 Amazing Experiences to Celebrate World Oceans Day

Sunday, 6th June 2021

Pam Forrest

australia humpback whale breaching astk

They make up over two thirds of our planet’s surface area. They produce 70% of the oxygen we breathe. They are mysterious and magnificent, inspiring fables and legend. The world’s oceans have long been a source of fascination and wonder and the 8th June marks World Oceans Day celebrating the role of the oceans in our everyday life and inspiring action to protect and sustain marine resources.

Having operated the very first whale watching trips in Iceland back in 1993, we believe that responsible tourism goes a long way to helping appreciate our planet’s natural wonders, finding the balance between protecting habitats while enjoying life-enriching experiences. We also work with tourism partners who offer opportunities to actively participate in environmental research.

We’ve selected six amazing experiences to celebrate the wonder of our oceans, each providing memorable moments to be cherished.

Atlantic Ocean

north iceland husavik humpback whale breaching ns

Humpbacks in Iceland

Moments like this… tingle as a humpback breaches in Skjalfandi Bay in North Iceland, Europe’s whale watching capital.

Sitting in the middle of the North Atlantic, but nudging the fringes of the Arctic Ocean, Iceland is one of the world’s top whale watching destinations offering year round opportunities. Summer is the best time to witness the acrobatics of humpbacks hopefully bathed in the golden light of the midnight sun, but with over 20 species of cetacean found in Iceland’s waters, you can expect to see many more. Minke whales, harbour porpoises and white-beaked dolphins regularly entertain whale watchers, and the larger fin and blue whales are also summer visitors.

Orca are best encountered on the west coast in late winter into early spring, where they are frequent visitors chasing the migrating herring. This time of year is also prime time to combine with seeing the northern lights.

Experience it yourself »

Get Involved: Whales & Science, Iceland
Launching this summer from Husavik in Iceland, head out in search of whales in Skjalfandi Bay and assist the onboard marine biologists with hands-on ocean research and micro-plastic analysis. Discover more »

canada offshore iceberg near st johns newfoundland astk

Icebergs in Canada

Moments like this… marvel as icebergs float past Canada’s Newfoundland shoreline following a route known as ‘Iceberg Alley’.

Every year, from early spring through the summer, icebergs are on parade off the coast of Newfoundland in Eastern Canada. Visible from shore and on boat trips, these spectacular glacial giants of 10,000 year-old ice have broken away from glaciers in the Arctic and float south along the ocean current. The best time to see them is May to early June.

The waters off Canada’s Atlantic coast are also among the most productive in the world enticing up to 22 species of whale from blues in the Bay of Fundy to the world’s largest population of humpbacks off Newfoundland.

Experience it yourself »

Arctic Ocean

arctic jan mayen polar bear on ice istk

Polar Bears in the Svalbard

Moments like this… remember to exhale as you watch a polar bear patrolling the Arctic pack ice around Spitsbergen.

The nutrient-rich waters of the Arctic attract a plethora of cetaceans including rarities like the bowhead whale and the distinctive beluga and narwhal. The rich marine environment provides sustenance for bearded, ringed and harp seals as well as walrus. It is also the hunting ground of the iconic polar bear. Witnessing this dominant predator in its natural environment is often the stand-out moment for those joining a small-ship cruise to the Arctic region.

Experience it yourself »

Get Involved: Clean Up Svalbard
Many of our Spitsbergen voyages offer guests the chance to participate in ‘Clean Up Svalbard’, an initiative to encourage visitors to pick up marine debris when they visit the archipelago’s coast.

Indian Ocean

western australia snorkelling with whale shark at ningaloo reef istk

Whale Sharks in Australia

Moments like this… catch your breath snorkelling next to a whale shark at Ningaloo Reef off Western Australia.

The Great Barrier Reef on Australia’s east coast may be the world’s largest living structure, but Western Australia’s Ningaloo Reef is a worthy rival and one of the few places in the world where you can snorkel with whale sharks from April to July. These gentle giants are sharks not whales making them the world’s largest fish. They don’t bite, but instead feed by filtering vast quantities of water through their gills consuming the tiniest ocean dwellers including small fish and plankton.

The largest state in Australia, WA, boasts countless stunning sandy beaches ensuring there is no shortage of picture perfect vantage points to watch spectacular sunsets night after night, as waves from the Indian Ocean wash ashore.

Experience it yourself »

Pacific Ocean

new zealand kaikoura mountains whale diving istk

Sperm Whales in New Zealand

Moments like this… freeze the frame as a sperm whale arches its back ready to dive into the subterranean Kaikoura Canyon.

The Pacific is the largest ocean in the world, stretching from the west coast of Canada to the east coast of New Zealand and spanning the International Date Line. It is the deepest ocean on the planet with numerous trenches such as the deep submarine canyons off New Zealand’s Pacific coast, a favoured hunting ground for sperm whales. Famed as the titular creature of Herman Melville’s classic novel, Moby Dick, sperm whales are the largest of the toothed whales and true giants of the deep. They dive hundreds and even thousands of meters down and for periods of up to 90 minutes.

Framed by mountains, the town of Kaikoura is a one of New Zealand’s tourist hot spots, offering year round whale watching. The enterprise is sustainably run by the local Maori community, ensuring a cultural significance as well as ecological. It’s also a pretty good spot to enjoy excellent seafood, with crayfish being a speciality.

Experience it yourself »

Southern Ocean

antarctica gentoo penguins swimming astk

Penguins in Antarctica

Moments like this… wonder at the torpedo-like speed of swimming gentoo penguins in contrast to their familiar waddle on land.

Also known as the Antarctic Ocean, the Southern Ocean comprises the world’s southernmost waters. Diverse and nutrient-rich, they support the full spectrum of marine life from krill to a plethora of cetacean species, including orca, fin, minke and humpback whale, plus of course, the icons of Antarctica, penguins. Four species can be found on the continent – gentoo, chinstrap, Adelie and emperor. Though not commonly associated with speed due to their apparent awkwardness on land, penguins at sea are adept swimmers with the gentoo by far the fastest.

Experience it yourself »

Get Involved: Research in Antarctica
The MS Seaventure’s unique on-board custom built science laboratory is used in the Citizen Science programme. This provides an opportunity for passengers to help with real life scientific research.


Feeling inspired?

Our Travel Specialists are enthusiastic, dedicated, and passionate about our destinations and would love to help you create the perfect trip to suit your occasion. Send an enquiry or call on 01737 214 250. If you prefer a virtual face-to-face, request a video chat when you enquire.

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