October 25, 2014

Humpback Whale tail slaps in Icy Strait

Icy Strait hosts an incredibly vibrant biological community. Long summer days and nutrient rich upwellings of cold Pacific Ocean waters keeps each of the trophic levels well fed. The whales come here to gorge on small fish and invertebrates- then migrate to Hawaii for breeding. They are so satiated from their feast in Icy Strait that they don't eat while procreating in Hawaii. Not one luau - nothing.

Ryan, Micah and I were overwhelmed with the level of whale activity in Icy Strait. This whale was slapping the water like it would never have a chance to slap water again. Apparently, this is a feeding technique. The tail slaps sends out shock waves into the water. The shock waves then disorients the schools of fish they are harvesting, making it easier for the whale to scoop them up.

The whales at Point Adolphus tired us out and filled up our memory cards. After an incredible afternoon, we left them alone to continue slapping tails, blowing, breaching and fluking without us.