As we were heading back to Juneau from a camping trip, we spotted a large pod of orcas near Howard Bay in Chatham Strait. The pod was spread out over a large area. It was difficult to determine how many individuals there were. We did manage to get photos of two large males. This pod has been identified as AG pod (Alaska resident orcas). As we watched the orcas we spotted two humpbacks in the area as well. I managed to get a fluke photo of one of the humpbacks.
We spent some time in Icy Strait and saw many Dall's porpoise. They seemed to be in every direction that we looked.
As I was driving on the bridge from Douglas Island to Juneau, I spotted two harbour porpoise in the Gastineau Channel. I parked and took a few photos, as I have never seen porpoise in the channel before.
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.
I was really hoping to find a pod of orcas, but we ended up finding lots of Dall's porpoise. They seemed to be everywhere. They are always fun to watch.
I spotted a spout from the west side of Douglas Island. The whale (assuming a humpback) appeared to be near Young Bay by Admiralty Island. I was standing on the shore and was only able to see the spout. I also spotted what I believe were Dall's porpoise. There were several sea lions in the area as well.
This summer has been a bit frustrating as far as whale watching goes. We have spent less time on our boat, and when we have been out the whales in the area were typically surrounded by several whale watching boats. Rather than join the chaos, we chose to stay away. The cruise ships stopped coming this week, so we decided to head out and see if we could find any whales still in the area. We got lucky and found three humpbacks in North Pass. We also saw two more spouts off in the distance. I was excited to see they all have not left the area just yet.
Two of the whales in the area appeared to be together, while the third whale was off by herself. The two that were together would surface and dive together. At one point, the two surfaced and seemed to be resting (logging). They did this for five to ten minutes. They remained side by side the entire time. Right before they dove, after logging, one blew a few bubbles then began to vocalize. I can only describe it as a groaning or growling sound. They then dove at the same time. This is the first time we have seen this type of behavior. It was very interesting and so neat to see and hear. I was able to identify both of the whales. One of the whales is #2006, aka Magma and the other whale is #1447, aka Juneauite (juneauflukes.org). I identified the third whale as #1538, aka Smudge or Flame. We have seen both Magma and Flame before.
We also encountered a pod of Dall's porpoise. They swam around our boat for a minute or two. This was the second time we have had Dall's porpoise do that. I was not able to get photos. They are too fast.