A very brief sighting in the channel. They were elusive and far away from where I was on shore.
As I was sitting on a beach at Fish Creek, I observed two orcas far off in the distance near Fritz Cove. They were well over one mile away from me. You can see both of them in this photo.
We took a quick trip in our boat to Taku Inlet and spotted a pod of orcas just outside of the Gastineau Channel in Stephens Passage near Douglas Island. There were five individuals in the pod. I believe one of the individuals may have been T037A. I am waiting to hear back from happywhale.com for IDs.
Happywhale.com confirmed that these were some of the T037s. Individuals have been identified.
Early afternoon I received information from a friend that there was a pod of orcas in the channel. I spent an hour or so looking for them but ended up having to leave. Later in the afternoon I was informed that the pod was still in the channel heading north. After watching for several minutes, I found them. They continued to travel north then turned and headed south. There appeared to be eight or nine of them. It was getting dark when I saw them so my photos are very grainy. I was told that T038A, T075, and T075A were with the group that had been seen earlier in the day. I am not sure if any of these individuals are in my photos.
From our deck I observed five or six orcas swimming south in the Gastineau Channel. I drove to Sheep Creek in the hopes of seeing them as they swam past, but I never did find them again. I believe the large male is T077A. Photos are highly cropped.
I got looking through my old sightings and found that we saw T077A near Ketchikan on March 17, 2016. I thought he looked familiar!
We spent some time in our boat looking for whales. I was hoping we would be able to go see if there were any whales in Saginaw Channel near Shelter Island, but the water conditions were too poor so we stuck close to Auke Bay. However, we did find #1538 (Flame) near the west side of Coghlan Island. We also found #1671 (Twin Peaks) near the east side of Spuhn Island close to Fritz Cove. Twin Peaks was traveling with a small juvenile (unable to get a fluke photo).
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.