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Archive for the ‘Alaska’ Category

I Did It!

I have finally figured out how to use iMovie to compile a few pictures with the audio from the bubble netting. Now it is a video file, compatible with youtube, and now is ready to view…enjoy!

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My time at Kenai Fjords Tours has come to an end.  The end of the summer marks the end of the season around here and more tour companies have already called it quits for the year.  It was a surprisingly beautiful summer, or so they tell me 😉 (I’m still convinced it has been near freezing), here in Seward, Alaska with plenty of sunny days and uncommonly calm waters.  I have also been told that this year has been especially amazing in terms of Humpback activity (I’d like to believe the whales knew I came up so they hung around more, but that hasn’t been verified yet).

It has been a wonderful summer full of new people and an improved library of whale knowledge.  Some of the things I have seen were simply unforgettable.  Shortly after reporting the first bubble net sighting I was able to get a copy of the audio and am still working on converting it to a usable file format to upload to youtube (clearly I need some help in the tech department). Only a week or so after that, I was able to see bubble netting for myself.  The group I saw was smaller, only four whales, but it was incredible! My captain ended up having to take the microphone away from me because my excitement beat out my will power and I was, for lack of a better word, squealing into the mic. I only got one picture, because I was busy being excited, but I got an identification shot of three of the whales.

Between, breachers, chin slappers, bubble netting, mountain goats, a group of over 100 offshore orcas, bears, moose, a wide variety of birds, harbor porpoise, Dall’s porpoise, Dall’s sheep, bald eagles, puffins, glaciers, fin whales, minke whales, and much much more…it has been one unforgettable summer, a VERY cold summer, but still unforgettable! I have some pictures here to recap the summer season since I was not very active in keeping this updated. I hope you enjoy and I will have more for you once the Maui Whale Season 2012 begins on December 15th, although I will be reporting as soon as the first sightings are made! From Alaska, aloha! I’ll see you in Maui…

 

 

 

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Bubble netting is a bit of an elusive hunting technique among Humpbacks.  This is a highly specialized way of feeding in which whales come together in “associations” (sometimes having been a part of these feeding associations for several decades).  Essentially, each whale has a role/job.  One of those whales will swim in a spiral tightening towards the end, while simultaneously releasing bubbles through its blow hole.  The goal is to disorient fish and confuse them; thus, stunning them into place and allowing the whales to come up to the surface, with mouths open, and take in thousands of fish.

First, it is only the North Pacific population that is known to use this as a hunting technique.  Second, after coming to Alaska I have realized that it is mostly the whales out of South East Alaska (Juneau area primarily) that employ this amazing strategy.  Today it was sighted in Kenai Fjords National Park.  I regret to admit that I was not onboard to witness this extremely rare behavior, but I have heard they recorded the encounter with a hydrophone.  If I can get a digital form or any pictures, I will be sure to post them immediately!

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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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