We have had some great adventure-filled trips with lots of breaching whales! In the last few weeks we have seen breaching gray whales, minke whales, humpback whales, and lunge feeding fin whales! It is so great to be able to see more of the whales’ bodies than usual and it always gives our whale watch guests a better understanding of these animals. It also lets us see their massive size out of the water!
The breaching humpback that we saw last week performed this behavior over and over again about 80 times! It happened so many times right in front of the boat that guests were getting ‘selfies’ with the breaching whale in the background. What a neat opportunity! We have also had some gray whale juveniles and calves breaching near the boat as well. These breaches are a bit of a surprise and often come without warning since these whales are spending most of their energy trying to make it safely back to Alaska. We also had a playful minke whale that breached several times in the distance on a recent trip. The pictures of the minke are really great because you can see the distinct white spot on its pectoral flipper, which is a characteristic indicative of this species.
Breaching is a behavior that scientists have yet to put a finger on. Since we cannot go inside a whale’s brain, we may never know the real reason, but there are some theories. Some say it is a way for these large animals to knock off the many parasites that make a home on the skin of the whale; basically a form of scratching themselves, while others say that they are just having fun. Since the minke whales have very few parasites living on them compared to the humpbacks and gray whales, they may have just been having a good time.
We have also had a few days filled with surface lunge feeding fin whales! These whales filter feed on krill and small fish. On these particular days, there was so much krill at the surface that we could see dark brown patches of it floating and tons of sea bird activity! There were several of these whales coming partially out of the water to engulf their food, push the water out, and lick the critters from their baleen. The photos that were taken show all the detail of the whales’ expanding ventral pleats, the open jaw, and even the baleen!
A few blue whales have also made an appearance again as well, so with all of the activity we are having, it is a good time to come out on a whale watching adventure! So come out and see these amazing whales, dolphins, seals, sea lions, marine birds, and other exotic findings in their natural habitat!