Saturday, June 28, 2014

Whales in Frederick Sound

Petersburg to Chapin Bay
Day 26                         62.8 nm
   Whale sightings in Frederick Sound were a sunny day bonus! We typically see at least one humpback whale hanging out near Portage Bay, or somewhere in the distance between Portage Bay and Cape Fanshaw across the channel. Today we spotted 5, maybe 6 whales, first hearing their blows and then spotting the puffs of vapor rising skyward. This group just cruised along, rolling on the surface and disappearing again for 10-15 minutes at a time. No fins or tails slapping, no leaps or displays, no big show, but that didn’t really matter. It’s always a treat just to see whales and Frederick Sound is a great place to observe them.

According to the Petersburg Marine Mammal Center:
·      *Of the estimated 22,000 whales in the North Pacific, approximately 3,000 to 5,000 spend the summer feeding in Southeast Alaska.
·      *Nearly half of the Southeast population enters the Frederick Sound area during the summer.

Other humpback whale factoids:
  *Frederick Sound humpbacks have been tracked to Maui, Hawaii – a 2,800 mile migration. One whale identified in Alaska was spotted 39 days later in Hawaii.
  *Humpbacks are baleen whales that have no teeth, but use plates of baleen on each side of the upper jaw to strain out feed. They eat krill, herring and other small schooling fish.(Imagine the quantity of fish it takes to feed a whale that’s over 40 feet long!)
  *The ventral side of a humpback’s tail (fluke) has unique black and white markings, markings that are unique to each whale. Researchers and whale watchers can use these markings to identify individual whales. Hmmm, like snowflakes but on a much larger scale?!

Chapin Bay to Baby Bear Bay
Day 27                         78 nm
Omigosh, more whales in sight, and this time they put on quite a show! We spotted seven whales in all, but two were real acrobats. They leapt and splashed, tail slapped, spyhopped, fin slapped, and breached, shooting skyward while twisting like a corkscrew only to crash back into the water, and then do it all over again. The show went on for ages, then abruptly stopped. We have some terrific photos, never enough of course, but these 2x2 composites are sufficient to trigger some great memories and bring a smile.

Come on by the next time we cross paths and check out our latest whale slideshow. 

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