Return to Alaska’s Inside Passage

Was I dreaming? Something was tugging on my foot in my bunk aboard the Lindblad-National Geographic Expeditions’ Sea Lion. Slowly as my brain tried to sort out dream from reality, I heard someone say “we have humpback whales bubble-net feeding.” OMG!!!

My brain fully woke up with those words – never mind that it was only around 4:30 AM. I was out of the bunk, and dressed in under 5 minutes, and on deck in under 7 minutes, with camera in hand. And I wasn’t the first, lol! The second mate had gone around and woken up guests in their cabins, and even the crew, so we could all witness this spectacular event. I knew from experience that it was unpredictable and could last for just a short time, or for hours, depending on the food source and the ‘whim’ of the whales. It had already been going on for about 45 minutes, and we watched and photographed it for another 2 hours, with not one, but two groups cooperatively feeding within close proximity of our ship!

I was there as a photo instructor, and I was over-the-top excited for everyone capturing this event in photographs. Larry Hobbs, fellow staff member and cetacean specialist, lowered the hydrophone in the water, and we were able to hear the calls of the ‘singer’ that orchestrated the cooperative effort. When the singing stopped, we knew they would surface, but where was the question! We weren’t seeing the usual bubbles at the surface to clue us in, so it was pretty funny to be surprised and try to be aimed in the right place when it happened. Over the course of time we watched, most of us got it right about 50% of the time, amidst many oohs, aahhs, and  ‘darn I missed that one’ comments.

Cooperative bubble-net feeding is uncommon – although I have seen it fairly often in the past four years in the Inside Passage. Turns out, not all humpbacks do this, only about 700 according to research, so it’s a very special event to witness!

In addition to the whales, there area brown and black bears, mountain goats, harbor seals, eagles, moose, and astounding scenery. It’s a place of wonder and wonder-filled wilderness. If you haven’t been get there soon – while the glaciers are still touching the sea…

Thanks for visiting!

 

 

Brenda Tharp
Brenda is an award-winning photographer, author, keynote speaker, workshop instructor and tour leader. Her acclaimed books include Creative Nature and Outdoor Photography, and Extraordinary Everyday Photography.
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2 Comments

  1. Shawn Hays July 7, 2017 at 7:41 am #

    Brenda: OMG……talk about dream becoming reality……wooo hooo!!! Some awesome photographs….without doubt…hope you share a couple more. Shawn Hays

    • Brenda Tharp July 7, 2017 at 9:31 am #

      Hi Shawn, and thanks! I will be sharing more, having a little issue with my image array of drives at the moment, but when I get that worked out, I’ll be posting again!