The one thing I knew I wanted to do on this trip (besides running, obviously) was whale watching! I looked at all the possible excursions that would fit into our schedule with the races and decided on Discover Alaska’s Whales. It had super great reviews, and it’s operated in conjunction with a scientist doing research with NOAA, so there’s a give-back aspect to it. It’s also small – limited to 20 people. AND there was a $100 cash guarantee if a whale wasn’t sighted (granted, they count even the driver sighting a spout, but still…)
All the excursions met up outside the ship, so once we were broken into our groups. There was an issue with the bus/van we were supposed to take, but eventually we were picked up and on the way to our boat.
This was our guide.
Our first task was to go out and check a small crab pot. They are trying to prevent an influx of green European crabs, which will pretty much eat all other crabs and are not good for eating, so this pot and others like it are checked and monitored with the hope being that they will catch them early enough to do something (though he wasn’t sure what other than just early catching). No green Europeans, but some other cool crabs.
Then we went out to a buoy where we saw Steller Sea Lions. As our guide said, these are not what you’ll see in any shows. They are not trainable and MEAN.
There was a littler one in the water who was trying to get up on the buoy, but the big bully one wasn’t letting him up at all. 😦
Then it was time to head further out… Our guide told us to watch the gulls, and when they started going crazy, to get ready…
Bubble net feeding!!!!! See, humpbacks will work within their pod for feeding. They swim around and around in circles under the water, confusing the herring, then at the signal – incidentally the one signal they have pretty much definitively identified which whales give – they all swim up with their mouths open, taking in up to 15,000 gallons of water and fish. They’ll then take some breaths, and when you see tails, they are diving, most likely to repeat the cycle.
I’ll just let the pictures speak…
We watched a few cycles of the feeding, and then sadly it was time for us to speed back to the dock so that we could get back to the ship before all-aboard. Being with a ship-sponsored tour, we were covered, but still it’s better to be back. Made it in plenty of time.
Another amazing day in Alaska had come to an end.