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!
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.
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.
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.
A very brief sighting from our front window. The pod quickly went by as they headed toward the bridge that connects Douglas Island to Juneau. Approximately ten minutes later they went by again heading back toward Sandy Beach. It was early in the morning and the sun had not hit the channel, therefore, my photos are grainy due to lighting issues and distance.
These orcas have been identified as residents.
We spent some time in our boat and found a pod of orcas just outside of Auke Bay near the southern tip of Shelter Island. There appeared to be between seven and eight orcas in the pod. They were split up into three groups. Two of the groups eventually came together and headed south (I believe there were six orcas in this group including two calves. One still had a peachy coloring to it.) The third group (two orcas) headed north. Judging from the seagull activity, I believe the group of six had made a kill before they started heading south toward the west side of Douglas Island. We headed north and found the third group (with two orcas) in Favorite Channel near Shelter Island. I was able to identify one of them as T63, aka Chainsaw (his name in Washington and British Columbia) or Zorro (his name here in Alaska). I have hoped that one day I would get to see T63. It was a real treat to see him. We left the area and continued north. Approximately one hour later as we were returning to Auke Bay, we spotted T63 and his mom, T65 in Favorite Channel near Halibut Cove by Shelter Island hunting a sea lion. Although we have witnessed orcas hunting, this was the first time we were able to see what they were hunting. The sea lion spent a fair amount of time on the surface breathing and appeared to be stunned or injured. However, the orcas abandoned the hunt and left the area. The sea lion eventually swam away. I wish I knew why they abandoned the hunt. We were a bit shocked by it, as it seemed like a done deal.
These orcas have been identified as the T064s along with T035. T063, aka Chainsaw was with his mother T065.
I took many photos, and have more to upload as soon as I get around to editing them.
There appeared to be two females and one juvenile. The pod was elusive and was being followed by ten whale watching boats. Between the elusive behavior of the orcas and the constant waves being produced by the whale watching boats, getting decent photos was impossible. It was a frustrating sighting.
A bit of a frustrating sighting due to the water conditions, the behavior of the orcas, and the position of the sun. The pod was on the move and difficult to track. There appeared to be five whales in the pod including one calf. These orcas have been identified as the T064s.
We also saw two humpbacks, Dall's porpoise, and harbour porpoise. No photos.