Naturalist guides are generally not highly paid, therefore I smirk when I hear it said that naturalists are “paid in moments.” There are times, however, I have to agree. I feel fortunate when wildlife reveals itself to me, even when I don’t capture the moment with my camera. Every now and then, however, I capture the moment, lucky to be at the right place at the right time with camera in hand.
Whale photography is particularly challenging for me. I shoot hundreds of photos just to get a fair-to-middling photo of a humpback whale. After all, whales don’t pose, the boat is usually rocking, the weather is generally gloomy in Southeast Alaska, and my photography skills mediocre. I often tell myself it is not the quality of the photo that is important, but the content captured. After all, look how many out-of-focus photos of Big Foot, the Loch Ness Monster and aliens get published. Admittedly, many of my Gastineau Guiding colleagues are far superior photographers and happy to share their artwork on my blog. So thank you Colin Peacock and Annette Smith. All of these photos were captured on a Gastineau Guiding excursion in the last couple weeks.
Humpback whale calf breeching, captured using a long lens
Not only do we see whales on our excursions, we sometimes hear their haunting vocalizations. Click the audio bar below to listen to humpback whales singing. Audio courtesy of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. According to juneauflukes .org, “noises produced by whales include social and feeding related vocalizations. Sounds produced by humpback whales are low in frequency, generally lower than 1.5 kHz. Low frequency sounds, such as these, are conducive for traveling great distances through the water.”
I have spent an incredible amount of money on cameras, yet I captured this incredible video on July 4 using my cell phone. Again, right place, right time. Talk about fire works!
We were watching whales breech more than a half mile away, keeping our distance as to not disturb the whales, when this unexpectedly happened.
Video by Aleta Walther © 2015 —
As Gastineau Guiding captains and guides, we stay 100 yards or more away from marine mammals. After all, we are guests in their home waters. We play by the recommendations outlined by Whale Sense and committed to responsible whale watching practices. As this video proves, some whales don’t play by the rules, and in the case of this youngster, some just like to show off.
Humpback whale cow and calf bathing in the soft light of an Alaska sunset.
Photo courtesy of Colin Peacock © 2015
Humpback whales surfacing while bubble net feeding.
Photo by Aleta Walther © 2015
Researchers believe bubble net feeding is a learned behavior and that only about 100 humpback whales worldwide have perfected this technique for corralling fish, much like cowboys corral cattle. This unique behavior is believed to take place only in Southeast Alaska. Check out this short video from National Geographic to see bubble net feeders in action.
Dive! Dive! Dive!
Photo by Aleta Walther © 2015
Learn more about how researchers around the world track whales by their tails, or flukes, in one of my previous posts: Juneau: Humpback Whales Summer Vacation Destination or at http://www.juneauflukes.org/
I have an eye on you.
A young humpback raises its head to look around.
Photo by Annette Smith© 2015
Magnificent Whales, Spectacular Scenery, Sunny Day
A perfect day for whale watching. Or in my case, just another day at the office.
All text, videos or photos copyright by Aleta Walther
or respective copyright holders, 2015
Naturalist, Outdoor Excursion Guide, CIG, CTA, ATG