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Archive for May, 2011

Tuesday was the first nice day I have seen since I have been here. And the animals sure seemed to be enjoying the wonderful conditions. We headed out and saw a humpback not doing much, just breathing and moving along.  Soon we noticed a tail slapper going off about a mile out.  We headed off to check him out and as we approached the whale breached.  Most of the boat boat missed it, which seemed frustrating at first, until the two whales put on an incredible, simultaneous performance.  After having about a ten minute down time they came up to breach together.  I think that both animals were adolescent in age, both appearing slightly smaller than a full grown adult. They continued to breach a handful of times, before we had to leave for the rest of our tour. We went on to see Harbor Seals, Mountain Goats, Orcas, Dall’s Porpoise, and lots of seabirds.  All in all an incredible day!

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I have worked on three tours so far and today the whales were incredible!! First, we were entering Holgate arm on the way to Holgate Glacier and while we were moving at speed an adolescent made an announcement breach. He breached a second time and landed a perfect perouet. I, of course, was immediately in love when I realized he was acting just like any adolescent in Maui – random and strange yet highly entertaining. He proceeded to repeatedly move backwards first showing his dorsel fin then raising his head to breathe. What made this experience even better was that he was no more than 50 yards off the whole time. Also, the water was like a lake with floating glacial ice surrounding our friend. He eventually did a few pec raises and finished the show with a backward tail raise. He slowly lifted his fluke up until it was at least 25 feet from tip of the fluke to the surface.

As we rounded Cape Aialik on the way home we stopped because there were hundreds of seabirds feeding, a clear indication that whales will be in the area. Sure enough, we had whales in five different locations! The closest was right behind us about 150 yards off. Captain Rich turned the boat to waitfor him to resurface and after a few minute a whale came lunging out, mouth agape, from under our boat taking a huge gulp of food. The seabirds immediately filled in the pick up the remnants. A truly amazing day and I cannot wait for more!

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The ScienceDaily recently released the following article discussing how environmental changes is altering the feeding patterns for the Antarctic population of humpbacks.  The magazine claims that increased krill populations is great for whales in the short term.  Unfortunately, krill populations rely on winter ice to replenish their numbers, since that ice is not returning as reliably as it used to there is major reason for concern for both populations involved.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110427171503.htm?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+sciencedaily+%28ScienceDaily%3A+Latest+Science+News%29&utm_content=Yahoo%21+Mail

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I just arrived in Alaska yesterday and will be here through September.  I haven’t yet arrived in the town I will be working in but will get there later today and will begin working for Kenai Fjord Tours on Monday.  I will keep you all posted on the greatly anticipated whale activity.  Although, from what I hear, I may have to provide pictures and facts about much more than just humpbacks. There is a lot of biodiversity in the waters here and I cant wait to check it out!

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