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.
We spent some time on our boat and were shocked to see thirteen humpbacks. Two of the whales were off on their own, while eleven were traveling together. They were swimming right next to each other and diving together. It reminded me very much of bubble feeding behavior. I was able to get several fluke photos and determined that these whales are not our bubble feeders. They were our "regulars." We have seen many of these whales on multiple occasions. There was at least one of our summer calves in the group . We watched it play with kelp at the surface of the water. One of the whales had clearly survived an orca attack. The right side of its fluke was partially missing and was covered in rake marks (scarring from the teeth of orcas). I believe this whale was young. It looked small compared to the rest of the whales. It will be interesting to see if these whales are still in the area the next time we head out on our boat.
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.
Long distant shot taken from shore. The whale was swimming south toward the backside of Douglas Island.
We spent some time in our boat after having not been on the water for well over a month. I was anxious to see if there were any whales still in the area. Unfortunately the water was very choppy and we were unable to go very far. However, we did see six humpbacks while we were out. I was able to identify four of them. Three of them appeared to be together. I was able to identify them as #1447, aka Juneauite and #2006, aka Magma. Magma has a calf this year. The third whale was a calf so I am assuming it was Magma's calf. Last year on October 2, 2018, we encountered Magma and Juneauite as they logged very closely together at the surface of the water. They seemed to be hanging out with one another much like this year's encounter. It is amazing to me that they are able to find each other. I cannot help but wonder if they are friends (if that is possible). I identified the fourth whale as #1879, aka Sasha. She was off on her own. The other two whales were off in the distance closer to Point Retreat. The water was too choppy to identify them.
Continued photos from the encounter previously described.
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 some time in our boat and found at least four humpbacks in North Pass, including #2070 aka Barnacles and her calf. One of the whales spent a lot of time logging at the surface. It then dove and breached. Several hours later we came back through the pass and noticed one of the whales logging at the surface again. After it dove it breached. I am not sure if it was the same whale that we saw breach earlier in the day. We have seen a lot of breaching this year. I am hoping that means the whales are getting the food that they need.
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!