Saturday, September 24, 2016

2016 Alaska Season Ends!

 The season is over and all we have to do now is to shut the boat down.  But this last week was a great way to finish.  We went to a fish hatchery on Baranof island where there are TONS of bears.  I think we saw 12, but possibly more.  Its hard to keep track of them all.  They were super fat bears, eating salmon like there was no tomorrow.  The fish hatchery seems to be ok with them eating all the salmon they can, so that is cool.
 This was my first time seeing Coho salmon up close.  That is what is in the hatchery.

 Then we went to a waterfall in the dark and shone the lights on the falls.  Beautiful.
 And then we saw a huge pod of Orcas messing with a humpback whale.  They were really close to it and staying that way, but I don't think they were going to eat it.  Just bother it.

 I got a nice view of an eagle.  Always good to look for them...
 And some Aurora to fill in the nighttime
 And a sea otter came swimming over to check me out in the Inian Islands, just boldly swam up.  It was eating an octopus and then swam over to check us out, and got about 10 ft away.
 This is a picture of some of the folks.  I really liked these guests.  It was a bit hard to say goodbye.  I'm also saying goodbye to Alaska soon, and getting ready to head south.  I'm looking into taking a road trip down the coast and that should be fun.

WEX videos

A few videos of the WEX from 2016
The first one is about the ship and the toys...

And this one is about the animals and things we saw...

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Orca Predation!

 We saw a pod of Orcas hunt down and kill a Dall's Porpoise!  WHOA!  We went over to Five Fingers Lighthouse to look for whales, saw a bunch of them, and then spotted the tall fins of the black and whites.  They cruised past us and we turned and followed from a distance and then a bunch of Dall's Porpoise scattered and fled, but the Orcas were in hot pursuit.  They chased it around in a few directions and then pounced on it and threw it in the air a few times until it was too tired to fight, then took it down under water and that was the end of the little guy.  Just after that, a Humpback whale came over and planted itself in the middle of the fray.  I think the Whale was slow in arriving, since they aren't fast, but once the scene stopped moving, got in and tried to keep the whales from eating the kill.  I've read about this happening a few times, where a humpback is defending a kill from the killers, and so we might have seen it happen ourselves.  Watching the power of the Orcas and the size difference between them and the Dall's Porpoise is impressive.  I got a bit of video as well, one part where the Orcas throw the porpoise in the air.  That will come out later, I assure you.
The next day we had great close encounters with humpbacks from a skiff.  I got this picture of one fluking next to the other skiff.

 We also got to see Otters, I'll miss these little guys in Mexico...

 And We went into Red Bluff Bay and did skiff tours there, going up a river that I have been dreaming about going up for years now.  The river was full of salmon and there were a few Brown Bears around.  One looked up from a fish to watch us as we went by...
But it was the Orca that made the week, no doubt.  I have two more weeks left of the season, then southbound to Mexico...