Bay of Whales

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Bay of Whales is located in Antarctica
Bay of Whales
Bay of Whales
Map depicting the location of the Bay of Whales on the Ross Ice Shelf in Antarctica
The RV Nathaniel B. Palmer research vessel using the Bay of Whales ice harbour
Bay of Whales

The Bay of Whales was a natural ice harbour, or iceport, indenting the front of the Ross Ice Shelf just north of Roosevelt Island, Antarctica. It is the southernmost point of open ocean not only of the Ross Sea, but worldwide. The Ross Sea extends much further south – as far as the Gould Coast, some 320 kilometres (170 nautical miles) from the South Pole – but most of that area is covered by the Ross Ice Shelf rather than open sea.

Discovery and naming[edit]

Ernest Shackleton named the feature on January 24, 1908, during the Nimrod Expedition, because of the large number of whales seen near this location.


During his quest for the South Pole, Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen established a temporary base, which he named Framheim, at the Bay of Whales. The base was used between January 1911 – February 1912, and was named after Amundsen's ship Fram.[1]

The Bay of Whales has also served as a logistical support base for several other important Antarctic expeditions, including:

The configuration of the Bay of Whales is continuously changing. A survey by the second Byrd expedition in 1934 determined that the feature lay at the junction of two separate ice systems, the movements of which are influenced by the presence of Roosevelt Island. Commander Glen Jacobsen, USN, who visited aboard the USS Atka in January 1955, found that calving of the ice shelf rendered the iceport temporarily unusable.

The Bay of Whales was entirely eliminated in 1987 when the 154-kilometre-long (83 nmi) Iceberg B-9 broke off from the Ross Ice Shelf.[2][3]

The Whale Bay Furrows, a series of undersea valleys on the central Ross continental shelf, were named in association with the Bay of Whales.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Framheim (Store norske leksikon)
  2. ^ "Bay of Whales." Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online.Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2011. Web.16 Dec. 2011.
  3. ^ Keys, Harry; Jacobs, S.S.; Barnett, Don (11 June 1990). "The calving and drift of iceberg B-9 in the Ross Sea, Antarctica". Antarctic Science. 2 (3): 243–257. doi:10.1017/s0954102090000335. S2CID 128996853.
  4. ^ "Whale Bay Furrows". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey, United States Department of the Interior. Retrieved 4 February 2019.

Coordinates: 78°30′S 164°20′W / 78.500°S 164.333°W / -78.500; -164.333