Saturday, August 31, 2013

Nearing the end

This is my last time in Juneau this season.  I begin the last week of my servitude today.  This past week was great, with lots of whales, some Orcas, and great weather.
 We went to Petersburg this time, because the weather was bad offshore, so we had to skip Klawock.  I like Petersburg and the mountains to the east, so it was nice to see the area. 
 The Devil's Thumb is a high peak east of Petersburg...
 We did go out to sea otter territory to look for the little beasties, and spotted a few.

 The weather is not so stable nowadays, because the winter is coming, but there was a nice clear night and i got a long shot of the milky way.  No Northern Lights, however.
 We had two Orcas come by the boat while in Port Houghton.  I love Houghton, and will have to go back on Altair and stay a while.  There is a big salt chuck, or lagoon, with a river connecting it to the ocean.  Lots of quivering seals were shivering in the shallows there, hiding from the roaming Orcas.  We paddled near one that would not move from the six inches of water he was hiding in.  He kept his eyes under water watchful of the predators, and kept a wary eye on us, but wouldn't swim to deeper water.

 On the way out we came across the orcas again, before coming into Humpback territory.
 There were hundreds of humbpacks lungefeeding all over the place, in a convention of whales.  They don't do this very often, but it was fantastic to see whales as far as the eye could see.  I like this shot because you can see the baleen and the bumps. 
 This is while at anchor in Port Houghton.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Kids in Nature

 This week was Kids in Nature, so lots of kiddos and some nature to see as well!  We were stormed by whales, surrounded and nearly overwhelmed by them!  In Fredrick Sound we met a mega "ham" of Humpback Whales, probably more than 100 of them, all lunging and feeding and bubblenetting.  I learned that the term for whales is a ham, and for Orcas is a pod. 
Not everyone was happy to see the whales, of course, here is a salmon longing to be an astronaut...
 When they lunge feed at the surface sometimes they turn sideways and you get to see how wide the flukes are, since half of it sticks up.
 Sometimes they stick up a bit, lunging skyward, and they open their mouths extra big...
 A close blow...

 And going back for more!

 Then on wednesday I got to go to Anan Creek Bear Observatory.  I took a jet boat from Wrangell to the place, for a reasonable fee, then we started hiking up the path with a gun-toting super-ranger.  He told us that he had been the guy who has to go and kill the "trouble bears" at various places in alaska, so he had probably killed more bears than anybody else on the planet.  A sad thing.  He was quite adept with the body language of the bears, and shepherded us well.  Just before we got to the little wooden picket fence platform (about 3 ft tall fence, made of weak wood pickets) a small black bear crossed the path right behind me, some 10 ft away, with a squirming salmon in his mouth.  My pulse was quickened.  From the safe confines of the observatory we saw 8 bears quite quickly; a mama Brown bear with two cubs, a black bear with two cubs, and then two lone bears, black and brown.  The stream was PACKED with fish, the most I had ever seen, or the highest density.  Crazy packed.  Fishing is easy there, just reach and grab.  Some of the fish were gasping and unable to get water because they were on the backs of others, and had to fight to get back into the stream. 
 These are the brown bear family...

 And the black bears.  The baby black bears would hide in caves and chew on their fish in there.  One was stuck in the cave and had to tug on his butt in order to get out again.  It was cute. 

Saturday, August 17, 2013


We just did this trip that was just off the wall.  It was a phenomenon, because we did EVERYTHING.  I swam with salmon, people hiked in Misty Fjords (permits are rare) went to a bear observatory where they could basically touch the bears, and kayaked at the glacier.  The Perseoid meteor shower blazed in the night, the whales were breaching like crazy, and the company was fantastic.  We had 20 people and all of them are sweethearts, and I have grown much closer to the crew as a result of this week.
I made a video as well.  Some of this week, some of other weeks.

Here's a star shot, but it doesn't look at the North Star, like you might expect.  the smearing is caused by the boat turning at anchor.
 This is a waterfall in God's Pocket, a small spot in Rudyard Bay.  Rudyard bay is in Misty Fjords and is really one of those places that I am going to go back to on Altair and have a long visit.

 The salmon are in all over and they are so much fun to see flopping around and wiggling their tails. 

 This trip, being Unleashed, the guests paddled at the glacier (Dawes) instead of a skiff tour.  What a way to see the ice, from the water...

 Here's a shot of the bow of the boat with us all on board, on the last night.

 And some kite shots...Ketchikan at the dock,
 and God's Pocket.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

South and sunny

 Yet another week in the north!  Here's a shot of Tracy Arm, and some ice I was sculpting on the exhaust pipe. 
 While in Walker Cove, we were visited by Orca Whales, which came right up to the boat and the playful babies were swimming around us.  They sometimes just came to the surface and sat there breathing quietly, sometimes they splashed, and a few times they breached.

 Here is the baby with its tail up.  The baby might have been 8 or 10 ft long. 

 A breach zoomed out....

 The walls of Rudyard Cove were next and they are like a northern Yosemite.  Sheer cliffs of stone, emotionless and forever, holding up the principles of the earth.
 A few kite shots...  One in the fog from behind, and one from the side at Rudyard Bay.