Since arriving in Alaska on June 12th we have been scouting for wildlife. Here is our report on sea mammals and bears:
Harbor Seals haul out onto ice to have their pups which weigh in at about 24 lbs. The young suckle for only one month during which time they double their weight, and thereafter exist on their own. We watched many seals on drift-ice recently calved from the LeConte Glacier. The wide variation in the seals’ color lasts through every molt during their life time.
We came across an enormous haul-out of Steller Sea Lions at the Brother Islands in Fredrick Sound. Sea Lions are easily distinguished from seals by their ears and much larger size, and by their ability to “walk” using their front flippers.
Bubble net feeding is a learned and complex behavior exhibited by Humpback whales and, by good fortune, captured by our camera. The whales act in concert, communicating with vocalizations, circling their prey, usually a school of herring, and confusing them by creating a net of bubbles surrounding them. We watched four of them exhaling in ringed unison, then rising in tandem to the surface to reap the rewards.
Dall’s porpoises are our frequent companions as they seem to be drawn to the thrum of Jupiter’s engines and her movement through the water. They converge on the boat and delight in diving and rolling in our bow wake. Although difficult to capture as they barely break the surface of the water, we frequently enjoy their serendipitous behavior.
Bears. None seen.
“To the lover of wilderness, Alaska is one of the most wonderful countries in the World” – John Muir