Abundance, Variety and Amazement
Wow, what a month! Our expedition customers here in beautiful Sitka, Alaska were treated to viewing 5 species of cetaceans and some incredible behaviors. It’s kind of a toss up for me as to what was the most exciting expedition.
Last week we were headed out to St. Lazaria Island where we watched a couple of humpbacks and harbor porpoise earlier that day then, suddenly we saw a breach. I heard one of our customers screeched, “Orca!” I responded, “no, that’s a humpback.” As it breached again I enthusiastically admitted my mis-Identification. I happily stood corrected as a Transient Orca thrilled us coming fully airborne a total of 7 times. It appears this big boy had a tempestuous encounter at some point as evidenced by the chunk taken out of his dorsal fin.
Just a few weeks earlier we were exploring along the coast of Kruzof Island and suddenly a breach. We were quick to identify this species as a Gray Whale calf. Gray whales forage in the Sitka Sound during Earths longest mammalian migration from the Sea of Cortez to as far north as the Chukchi Sea. Later that same expedition we encountered a group of 5 gray whales feeding in waters as shallow as 10’ and literally rubbing against a small rock outcrop. On another trip that week we sat in one spot with 2 Humpbacks on one side of the boat and 2 Gray Whales on the other as well as about 6 Harbor Porpoise. We watched the humpbacks occasional lunge fed and even one Spy Hop.
Four Minke Whales have been hanging about the Sound for the past few weeks. Yesterday we watched one forage in a very shallow kelp bed surfacing to breath with kelp adorning it’s bowed dorsal fin. At times it fed on it’s side with half of it’s fluke and pectoral fin sticking out of the water. It also delighted us with a couple of short timed terminal dives, flashing the individual identifying underside of the fluke.
In addition to cetaceans our guests were thrilled viewing loads of other species. We watched dozens of Coastal Brown Bears, some with cubs over-turning rocks in search of a snack, hundreds of Tufted Puffins, rafts of Sea Otters many with pups on their belly floating in kelp beds, Bald Eagles stealing fish from the mouths of Stellar Sea Lions, Harbor seals with pups, and an immense variety marine birds.
Upon further reflection the most exciting part for me this past month happens on every trip. It continues to be the genuine joy our guests express during these special encounters. Thanks so very much to all of guests for adding to my happiness.