We spent some time on our boat and spotted four humpbacks near Point Retreat and North Pass. We saw Sasha and finally saw Flame and her calf. When we first spotted Flame, her calf was nowhere to be found. Flame began quickly swimming north when she suddenly breached. She then continued north, but her calf was still nowhere to be found. We finally spotted her calf pretty far north of her but swimming towards her. From what we saw, we are convinced she breached to communicate with her calf. It seemed like she was announcing her position or was telling him to get back to her. I was relieved when we finally saw the calf. I was worried something had happened to it.
From Sheep Creek I watched a humpback repeatedly breach all the way down to the Douglas boat harbor. I am trying to give the driver of this boat the benefit of the doubt. I was very far away so perhaps the boat wasn't as close to the whale as it appears. However, this may be an example of how NOT to operate a boat around a breaching humpback whale. The series of photos shows three separate breaches.
I was not able to get a fluke shot, but I do wonder if this was #1538 (Flame) and her calf. The sighting was brief so I was only able to get one blurry photo with both of them in it.
We spent a few hours searching for humpbacks from the westside of Douglas Island to North Pass. While searching on the westside of Douglas, we spotted a humpback breaching. We moved a little closer and watched her breach three more times (I was never able to get a photo of the breach). She also slapped her tail several times, and when she would surface she would make a low growling sound. We also heard her trumpet blow. It would be interesting to know if she was celebrating or annoyed by something. I was able to identify her as #1879 (Sasha). We have seen Sasha on several occasions.
After watching Sasha we went down to North Pass where we saw three more whales. I was unable to identify any of them.
We drove to the end of the road in Juneau and walked down to the beach. While we were on the beach we noticed a distant spout.
When we first arrived on the beach we noticed a large humpback logging at the surface of the water in the middle of the channel between Douglas and Admiralty Island. A few seconds later we noticed a very small humpback swimming around near the whale that was logging. It was obvious it was a mother and calf. I have heard that whale #1538, aka Smudge or Flame has a calf with her this year. Although I was never able to confirm if this was Flame, I cannot help but think it was. We have seen Flame on several occasions. I last took a photo of her in Fritz Cove on December 21, 2018. It is very fascinating to think that she left Alaska sometime after that, swam all the way to Hawaii, had a calf, and is back in Alaska. That seems like such short amount of time.
A pod of orcas were observed in the Gastineau Channel. T075 and her adult son T075A have been identified, along with T038A. These are transient (mammal eaters) orcas. They swam right by me as I stood underneath the Juneau-Douglas bridge.
When I learned that a sperm whale carcass had washed up on shore near Juneau, I hoped that we would be able to go see it. The carcass is closer to Haines, but thankfully we had a low wind day and were able to get there with our boat. Sperm whales typically are not found in inside waters so this really is a rare occurrence. Here is a good article about it. https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/feature-story/alaska-noaa-team-examines-dead-endangered-sperm-whale
A pod of orcas were observed in the Gastineau Channel. I first noticed the pod near one of the cruise ship docks. They were very active while they were in that area. I think they were hunting something or had killed something. They were on the other side of the channel from me and heading south, so I drove over to Sheep Creek hoping they would pass right by me. Once I got on the other side of the channel, I found that they had moved back over to the Douglas side of the channel (which is were I started from). I watched as they swam past Sandy Beach. I eventually drove to Sheep Creek hoping that they would move over closer to me. They never did! They cruised along the shores of Douglas, sometimes lingering in one spot. I eventually had to leave and last saw them across from Sheep Creek very close to Douglas Island. Despite the extreme distance, I was able to identify T038A thanks to a unique white patch she has on her dorsal fin. She is a transient orca.