08-30-2012 Humpbacks are back and showing off

What a difference a day makes. Once we got out to the deep water at the north slope of the canyon today we found the waters alive with life. The swarms of actively feeding birds were a telltale sign that the krill was blooming. Soon we had three humpback whales showing off in a big way. We were greeted with a double breaching young whale. As we eased up to the scene, this young whale decided to check us out and came right up to the boat, giving great views to all aboard. It was extra thrilling to watch it zoom right under the water’s surface alongside our boat. To complete the treat, the young whale enthusiastically lifted up its tail stock and whacked the water in a big way right next to us. We were then distracted by a large pod of Risso’s dolphins which also came right by the boat in an impressive display of speed and grace. Next stop was the other two whales that we had seen spyhopping and lungefeeding from a distance. What a rare sight to come upon them surface lungefeeding, exposing their huge mouths and ballooned out throats as they took mouthfuls of krill right at the surface and right near the boat. Passengers were just thrilled to look inside the massive mouths of the whales and see the pink palate and rows of brushy baleen. It was a good day of whale viewing. I must admit, though, that the birds were my highlight. An impressive black-footed albatross flew circles around the boat the even alighted on the water feet from us to give everyone the best views. Better yet, we came upon a full breeding plumage tufted puffin sitting on the water. This is a very rare sight for us on the bay of this normally more northern species. It posed for us giving all a fantastic view of this beautiful and comical looking seabird. As a biologist with a passion for birding, it made my day for sure! Time to get out there and greet the beautiful fall on the bay. See you out there…Dorris

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