Orcas in the Gastineau Channel
From our deck I observed five or six orcas swimming south in the Gastineau Channel. I drove to Sheep Creek in the hopes of seeing them as they swam past, but I never did find them again. I believe the large male is T077A. Photos are highly cropped.
I got looking through my old sightings and found that we saw T077A near Ketchikan on March 17, 2016. I thought he looked familiar!
Orca/humpback double header
We went back out in our boat to see if the humpbacks were still near Shelter Island. As we neared the southern tip of Shelter Island, we spotted a small pod of orcas. The water was very rough, visibility was low, and the orcas were very elusive. There appeared to be three orcas; a mom and calf pair and another female or juvenile male. Due to the conditions we only saw them surface three times. The last time we saw them they were moving very quickly. One porpoised out of the water a couple of times. I believe they were in the process of hunting something.
We left the area and entered Saginaw Channel where we eventually spotted six humpbacks. The visibility was too low to see very far. We were unable to get many photos.
Long distant orcas
I spotted a pod of orcas while parked on the highway just north of Tee Harbor. The orcas were traveling south in Lynn Canal. There appeared to be six or seven whales.
We spent a few hours in our boat and spotted a pod of orcas in Lynn Canal north of Berners Bay. The pod was spread out over a large area. They were moving fairly quickly making it difficult to get photos of individual whales. I believe this may have been AG pod (Alaska resident orcas). I have submitted photos to Happywhale.com for confirmation and am waiting to hear back from them.
**Happywhale.com has confirmed that this is AG pod.**
We also spotted two humpbacks while we were out. One was near the entrance of Berners Bay and the other was near the north end of Shelter Island. We did not have enough time to stop and get photos of the humpbacks.
Two orcas in the Gastineau Channel
Long distant shots taken in awful weather. Two orcas were observed swimming south in the Gastineau Channel. The orcas have been identified as T087 and T072.
Humpback/Orca double header
Continued photos from the encounter previously described.
Humpback/Orca double header
We took a boat ride to Hoonah and saw 12 humpbacks along the way and a pod of orcas on our way back. The first group of humpbacks were near North Pass. The usual whales seemed to be present including Flame (#1538) and Barnacles (#2070) and her calf. I am unsure if Flame's calf was there. There were at least six whales in the area so it was difficult to determine.
As we headed through Icy Strait and got closer to Hoonah, we noticed a group of six humpbacks swimming and diving right next to each other. In 2017 we saw a group of humpbacks bubble feeding in the same area so we stopped to see what they were doing. I was able to get a fluke photo of one of the whales and it turned out to be a whale from our 2017 encounter. The whales never began bubble feeding while we were watching them, but I cannot help but wonder if they eventually did.
While we were headed back to Juneau we spotted a large pod of orcas in Chatham Strait near Point Retreat. The whales were spread out and seemed to be in every direction that we looked. They were very active, as we saw tail slapping and breaching. I believe they were AG pod (resident orcas). I recognized AG27 (Yakobi) from prior encounters with him.
We spent more time out in Icy Strait and saw two or three humpbacks along the way and two humpbacks in Icy Strait. We also saw several Dall's porpoise in Icy Strait. As we were heading home we spotted a lone male orca between Hanus Reef and Sisters Island in Icy Strait. We watched him for 30 minutes and never saw any other whales with him. As we were watching him, he porpoised out of the water and we were able to see a good portion of his head and body. It was an amazing sight to see! So big and very powerful. He was identified as AG27 (Yakobi) of the Alaska resident orcas. I have never seen a resident orca alone before. I am guessing the rest of the pod was not too far away. Another great day on the water!
We spent some time on our boat looking for whales and found Flame #1538 and her calf in north pass. While we were watching them, we heard someone mention on the radio that there were orcas near Lena Point. We headed over there and found a very large pod of orcas. They were seemingly everywhere. I found myself looking in every direction only to miss individuals as they surfaced all around. I ended up with a lot of blurry photos. The pod has been identified as AG pod of the Alaska residents. It was so great to see residents again. Watching this group is pure joy. They seem to be having such a grand time. We saw breaching and tail slapping. It is like watching a big orca party! It was wonderful seeing them. I personally do not see residents in Juneau as often as I did while we were living in Ketchikan. Although I enjoy seeing transients, residents are very special to me. They are such a neat ecotype.
After watching AG pod, we headed over to Vanderbilt reef and did a little fishing. While we were fishing a humpback swam near us and sat at the surface of the water for several minutes. At one point one of its pectoral fins came out of the water. After the humpback left, a pod of Dall's porpoise showed up. It was a terrific day to be on the water!
Humpback/Orca double header
We spent some time in our boat in Icy Strait and saw three humpbacks in north pass and four along our route in Chatham Strait. While we were in Icy Strait we saw several Dall's porpoise. As we were coming home we spotted a few whale watching boats stopped in Chatham Strait near Cordwood Creek. We decided to stop and look for what they were watching. After waiting for several minutes, a pod of four orcas surfaced very close to our boat. We were a bit startled as we did not know what the whale watching boats were looking at, and we were not expecting orcas to surface so closely to our boat. Nevertheless, I was able to get great ID shots of the orcas. They have been identified as the T100s. They are transient killer whales.