Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Whale Ho!

These pictures were taken during an evening whale-watching cruise on a catamaran that sailed from Juneau.  The ship set out a little after 5 and returned shortly before 9; as you can see, the sky was cloudy but still quite light the entire time.  It was a fairly sizable boat; hors d'oeuvres were supposed to be served, but the "appetizers" turned out to be an entire meal featuring fruit, salads, salmon, beef, and dessert.  Good thing we skipped supper.

The whales in these photos are humpbacks, and what you see is what we saw.  According to the guide, humpbacks virtually never "sound" (leap out of the water) in Alaskan waters; they save that behavior for their winter home, the waters around Hawaii where they mate.  When we saw the whales, they were tanking up on food so they would have enough fat to see them through the winter.  Apparently the warmer water around Hawaii doesn't support the krill they eat, so they basically aren't able to feed there.  (If I had to go all winter without eating, I'd be leaping around pretty spectacularly, too.)

The group of whales we observed contained three adults and a calf.  I took many more pictures of them, but figured you probably have a limited tolerance for photos of isolated fins and flukes.

The whale known to the locals as "Spot," diving
Point Retreat lighthouse
^Note napping sea lions
Spouting whale

Mother humpback and calf

Three whales in close proximity

"We owe it to our children to be better stewards of the environment. The alternative? - a world without whales. It's too terrible to imagine." ~Pierce Brosnan

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