Friday, June 27, 2014

Alaska Journal #14: Whale Watching & Wildlife Quest

We board a catamaran at Allen Marine, a short bus ride from Juneau.

It's Wednesday, June 4th at 11:30.  We're off and running.  It was cool on the water so we dressed warm.

We traveled through Saginaw and Favorite Channels and Lynn Canal in search of wildlife.

The scenery was captivating as always.

We weren't the only ones scanning the water for signs of wildlife.

An Orca is the first animal spotted.

When something was seen, the location was shared by whoever saw it first.  If it was seen at the front right side of the catamaran, the location would be designated as 1:00.  The left rear would be considered 8:00 and so on, using an imaginary clock to define the areas of water around the boat. We were instructed to try to be quiet so as not to startle the animals.

A pair of Stellar sea lions swim together.

I see three moving bodies out there now.

I couldn't zoom in any closer so it's hard to get a good look.  When maneuvering the vessels for the optimal view, the navigator strives to avoid disrupting the animals' natural activities.   

That's a pretty good splash but I don't know what's out there.
A slight glimpse and often that was it.

Hey, hey, now we're talking!!!

Unfortunately, that's all she wrote. 

We didn't have the waters to ourselves but there was plenty of room for the various watercraft out that day.

We were alert and watching at all times.

I won't find sights like this when I get back home, unless I move up here.  I don't think I'm up for that.  

This catamaran is named St. Yakov.

Shore 'nuf, folks live along the channels and canals.

Someone's on the ground to the left of the boat, working on something.

Lon and I were wishing we'd see more action.

See that dark object near middle of the shoreline.  That's how hard you have to look.

My field guide states:  To spot a whale, we typically first look for their blow, which rises up to 10 feet high.  They blow 4 to 10 times at 20-30 second intervals, gently rising with their humped backs visible for just a few moments each time.  When they start a deep dive, you may see their tail (flukes) in the air.  These dives can last anywhere from a few minutes to nearly a half hour.

Do you see this whale's blow?

I thought this was part of his tail which would mean he was starting a deep dive...

...but that's his back so he's not diving yet.  I don't know what that was in the previous photo.

He or she isn't in any hurry to go deep.

I watched him until he was visible no more.  

We took off to search other waters in this area slightly north of Juneau.

I'm thinking that these are seals.

My field guide explains that "sea lions can be distinguished from seals by their size, ear flaps, and rotating rear flippers.  They have narrower muzzles that point upwards as they surface."
"Seals often swim quietly along the shore, their round, earless heads just breaking the surface.  At low tide, they may haul out on rocks.  Seals depend on a thick layer of body fat for warmth.  Their coast consists of coarse short hairs.  Color varies from blonde to nearly black, many are spotted and blotched.  Seals are deep divers and rely on fish as their main food source."

I'm pretty sure these are seals.  

I like those buildings on that island, dwarfed by the mountains.

See that?

A Stellar sea lion?

He's waving!!

Or does he want a high five?

His buddies join in.

See their ear flaps?  Sea lions have them, seals don't.

Catching some rays.  They don't care if they're shapely or not.  Good thing!!

"Hey come on in, the waters fine.  Besides, I need a break.  Make some room!!"

Do Stellar seal lions "dog paddle?"
Let's get a real close look.

You're so vain.  I bet you think this blog is about you.

Sure I can sing.  What do you want to hear?

What a ham!!

My voice is better than yours anyday.

Hey, I'm dying here!

If I told you once, I've told you twice.  I ain't going in the water!!!  So beat it!
Finally, some peace and quiet.

Oh well, I may as well get some backstrokes in before supper.  

This is really good for my biceps.

I sure got a kick out of watching this!!  (That's me, Cheryl, talking now).

Looks like a big Hershey's kiss.

That's a glacier between the mountains.

A closer look at the glacier.

I zoom out.

And back in.

Closer yet.

Blurry, but now we're walking on it.

See that?

See the blow to the right? 


Good job.

I wish we could see more of the humpback whale but this is about as good as it's going to get.    Field guide:  When a humpback whale comes completely out of the water, he is in full "breech."  This is a relatively rare behavior in southeastern Alaska.  (Darn!)  During their stay here whales exhibit many other behaviors, including bubble-net feeding, rolling, slapping their pectoral fins and tail flukes, and spy-hopping.


Thar she blows!

We've seen quite a bit of activity today.

Another sighting.

Come one, come all!  

Actually, all of the boats were respectful and never interfered with each other. 

Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn.

It would have been great to see the whale's tail as he dove.

Occasionally, we were allowed to sneak through the cabin if we wanted to get to the other side of the boat.  We chose to stay outside throughout the tour.

It's 2:30.  That concludes our  three-hour Whale Watching & Wildlife Quest.  We were guaranteed to see humpback whales and we sure did.


Jackie said...

You got some great pictures...especially of the sea lions. We did not see many of glad that you took some pictures of them...and I love your comments under the pictures.

Cap Chastain said...

STUNNING .. WHAT A POST .. I am a tad shy-on-time but I would like to have counted the number of photos .. let me estimate seventy (70) .. maybe I will go back and count them.

Does taking this side trip mean you WILL NOT VISIT Mendenhall Glacier near Juneau?

The sea otters are so much fun and you didn't see any of the little rascals looks-like-to-me.

So you are NOT planning to move up here ? The man on the ground way-up-at-the-top may be there due to a lack of blood taken from him by mosquitoes ! He just looks-like-he-is-working on his hands and his knees ..

Much Joy from You-Know-Who .. Cap and Patti ..

Gullible said...

Looks like you visited the same buoy I did. Sure looks familiar. Whale watching is iffy at best. Right time, right place. You never know where to point the camera! I was having dinner with a nephew at a waterfront dining room in Hawaii and watched whale spt hop about 20 times across a sunset. Beautiful. Love your photos.

Cheryl aka Shaddy said...

CAP & PATTI: You're right. We did not visit Mendenhall Glacier. Too much to do, so little time. And no plans to move way up there; it's beautiful but....
We weren't anywhere that the mosquitos were so we lucked out; I hear they're huge.
Thanks for the visit.

Cap Chastain said...

I wonder IF the powers-to-be .. and I HAVE NO CLUE as to who 'they' might be .. the tour company maybe .. in some way .. 'encourage' the seals or sea lions to populate the same buoy Gullible and you seemingly noted and photographed ? LOVE the seals and sea lions .. used to view them from the Cliff House in San Francisco on 'seal rocks' .. never tired of them and their 'barking' ..

"Cap this is a program-of-honesty !"

OK .. the real reason that I revisited this post Shaddy is that I HAVE COUNTED the number of photos ..

I was OFF BY 100% .. in this post I counted that there are one hundred and forty (140) photos and NOT the seventy (70) I guessed in my post above ..

"What's that? " .. "Some of us ARE sicker-than-others !" WELL I AM HAVING FUN .. Smiles from Cap (Patti does NOT know about this silliness !) ..

Cheryl aka Shaddy said...

CAP: Are there really 140 pictures in this post? How could I expect folks to look at 140 pictures?

I must be one of those high maintenance individuals you read about.