We spent a couple of nights camping at Taku Harbor and did some sight seeing up Speel Arm. We saw two humpbacks at the entrance of Taku Harbor and three humpbacks while exploring Speel Arm. From our campsite in Taku Harbor we watched a whale possibly trap-feeding near the entrance of the harbor. When I first noticed the whale we thought it was spy hopping, but after watching it through binoculars and through my camera I could see that it was sitting motionless at the surface of the water with its mouth wide open. It would then close its mouth disappear and then surface and repeat. It was not lunge feeding. There was another whale with it who appeared to be swimming around in the same area.
While on our sight seeing excursion in Speel Arm, we stopped to watch a humpback and noticed another whale swimming toward the whale we were watching. Suddenly the whale we were watching began breaching and slapping its pectoral fins on the surface of the water. The whale swimming toward it responded with a couple of tail slaps. It appeared as though they were communicating with each other. It was very neat to see.
I was shooting photos directly into the sun so many of them are blown out.
From our boat we spotted a cow and calf pair near point retreat. The water was very choppy so getting photos was nearly impossible. The calf was very active. We watched it breach and slap its tail several times. I am not convinced that this was #1538 (Flame) and her calf. I was not able to get a photo of the cow's fluke, but I briefly saw it and I do not think it was Flame. I have heard there is another cow and calf pair in the area so perhaps it was them.
We spent some time in our boat and spotted two humpbacks near point retreat. One of the whales was #1879 (Sasha). All four photos are of Sasha.
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.