Sunday, May 7, 2017

Whale Watching Practice

We here at Alaska Charters and Adventures are primarily known for our excellent, personalized trips to the world famous Anan Wildlife Observatory, LeConte Glacier, and of course, the Stikine River, but we also offer professionally guided whale watching trips to some of the best whale locations in the area.  John and Bob are our knowledgeable and experienced whale watching captains who are year round residents of Wrangell with thousands of hours on the water.  They are also avid amateur photographers who know how to set you up for that lifetime shot. 
I had an opportunity to practice and hone my whale watching captain skills this weekend on a personal trip to the deep waters of Clarence Strait about 45 minutes from Wrangell by boat.  Clarence Strait is one of the bigger bodies of water near Wrangell and can be intimidating place to navigate in but can also be flat and calm as a catfish pond.  Sea conditions for us were somewhere in between, closer to the catfish pond than the cold, frothy death at the other end of the scale and it was partly sunny and slightly warm so made for a pretty nice trip.
Clarence Strait is a great place to see whales, it might take some searching but there are nearly always whales somewhere out there.  Humpback whales are the most commonly seen whales here and are the most exciting to watch as they tend to be fairly active and acrobatic breaching and flipper and tail slapping or maybe bubble feeding in cooperative groups to herd schools of feed fish.  They can also be quite vocal and if near enough to the boat, you can nearly feel the vibrations of their communication in the hull of the boat.  Sea otters, Killer whales and Dall's Porpoise are not uncommon to see out there either..

Here are some examples of what you may see if you book a whale watching tour with us.  Please be easy on the photographer, he is an amateur!

The series of photos above are of a humpback whale calf enjoying a sunny morning with its mother in Clarence Strait.  It really seemed to be having a good time slapping the water and rolling over on its back while its mother kept watch close by.  I couldn't guess how many whales I've seen during my years here, thousands?, but I have never gotten bored with seeing them.  If you have a chance during a trip to Alaska, going on a whale watching tour somewhere is a worthwhile excursion.

If only this one wasn't blurry! 

The whale above put on quite an amazing show for quite some time!  The weather and water conditions had deteriorated significantly so we had to ride out some 5-6' seas and howling wind to get these few good shots.  This guy breached at least 20 times and "spyhopped" several times as well.  These were some of the worst possible conditions for photography but we were able to get several shots that we were happy with.  Another successful trip and one that has gotten me excited for sharing experiences like this with our clients.
Whales are one of the many aspects of Southeast Alaska that make this place so special and unique in the world.  We'd be happy to help you find this out for yourself!

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