We had reserved the Glacier Bay Flightseeing excursion, but the ceiling was so low that the first flight was cancelled, ours (the second) was also cancelled, so we switched over to whale watching. Our friends Dave and Gill from England were scheduled for the first flight, waited through ours, and finally managed to fly out on the third. It was still cloudy down at Icy Strait, but when they flew up to Glacier Bay, they said it was sunny and fantastic.

The whale watching boat at Icy Strait.
Icy Strait Point takes only one cruise ship at a time.

It was gray and chilly, but we found whales pretty quickly. We were out in the Point Adolphus area.

This was a two-ton (!) baby. This baby travels with four adults, and spent a lot of time whacking its tail above the water. This, the naturalist said, is to strengthen its “caudal peduncle” – the muscle that propels the whale through the water. (Unlike fish, whales ‘flap’ their tails up and down, not side to side.)

Sometimes, the baby would slap its tail sideways really hard!
(I kept catching it after and not during… In the movie below you can see the whole thing.)

The humpback whale is the fifth largest of the world’s great whales. Distinct populations of humpback whales are found in each of the world’s oceans. Newborn calves, weighing an average 1.5 tons, range from 10 to 16 feet in length. Males may reach 43 feet in length, while females are slightly larger, averaging 45 feet. A mature humpback weighs up to one ton per foot, or about 85,000–90,000 pounds. Researchers believe humpbacks live approximately 40–60 years

These are the four adults the baby was with.

A pec slap – wherein the whale rolls over and whacks its large (pectoral) fin on the water.

The humpback’s scientific name, Megaptera novaeangliae, refers to its huge fifteen-foot pectoral fins.
Mega = large; ptera = wing (like in pteradactyl?) And nova = New, angliae = England, so New England Big-wing…

See the kayakers being picked up on the shore by the metal boat?


Someone breathing out, and the baby splashing.

Whale Movie!

This is a 5MB mpg movie of the four adults, who were chased toward our little boat by a Stellar Sea Lion. First you’ll see the baby’s tail making a side-ways splash (toward the right); then, one after another, the adults lift their flukes and dive. At the very end, you’ll see a small thing (toward the right-front) surface and then slide back under the water – that’s the sea lion!