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.
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.
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.
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.