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.
Long distant shot taken from shore. The whale was swimming south toward the backside of Douglas Island.
We spent some time in our boat after having not been on the water for well over a month. I was anxious to see if there were any whales still in the area. Unfortunately the water was very choppy and we were unable to go very far. However, we did see six humpbacks while we were out. I was able to identify four of them. Three of them appeared to be together. I was able to identify them as #1447, aka Juneauite and #2006, aka Magma. Magma has a calf this year. The third whale was a calf so I am assuming it was Magma's calf. Last year on October 2, 2018, we encountered Magma and Juneauite as they logged very closely together at the surface of the water. They seemed to be hanging out with one another much like this year's encounter. It is amazing to me that they are able to find each other. I cannot help but wonder if they are friends (if that is possible). I identified the fourth whale as #1879, aka Sasha. She was off on her own. The other two whales were off in the distance closer to Point Retreat. The water was too choppy to identify them.
Continued photos from the encounter previously described.
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 in our boat and found at least four humpbacks in North Pass. The water was rough so it was difficult to determine how many there were. #1538 aka Flame was in the area and we did see a calf, but at times it seemed like there were two calves. One of the whales logged at the surface almost the entire time we were in the area. Getting photos was challenging due to the water conditions.
We spent some time in our boat and found at least four humpbacks in North Pass, including #2070 aka Barnacles and her calf. One of the whales spent a lot of time logging at the surface. It then dove and breached. Several hours later we came back through the pass and noticed one of the whales logging at the surface again. After it dove it breached. I am not sure if it was the same whale that we saw breach earlier in the day. We have seen a lot of breaching this year. I am hoping that means the whales are getting the food that they need.
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!