Almost two million tourists follow in their wake, hoping to catch a glimpse of these gentle giants. Okay, two-million-and-one counting yours truly.
My maritime whale-watching excursion included a guaranteed whale sighting or a refund on the cost of my excursion with Allen Marine; and that’s no fish tale, particularly given whales are mammals, not fish. But you knew that, right?
Suffice it to say, my hundred bucks bought me a whale of a good time; and some unexpected visitors to boot.
Forget women’s corsets! Happy to oblige.
Forget whale oil for heating our homes. We have petroleum, folks.
Forget cosmetics. Ever heard of au natural?
1965 marks the year the International Whaling Commission stepped in to ban non-subsistence hunts of North Pacific humpback whales; sixty years after the first factory ships for whaling were built. The humpbacks are further protected under the U.S. Endangered Species Act of 1973.
So as long as the whales avoid the waters off Norway, Iceland and Japan (those countries have refused to abide by the whaling moratorium), they’re safe from their biggest predator. The World Wildlife Federation estimates that more than 31,000 whales have been killed since the IWC ban.
Sorry! My soapbox tends to get slippery from time to time, as slippery as international relations.
Must have been a Blue whale that swallowed Jonah.
Alaska’s steep-sided fiords and 18 hours of summer sunlight provide perfect feeding grounds for the hungry humpback whales, most returning from the warm waters of Hawaii where breeding rather than feeding is the top priority. Heavy algae blooms mean plenty of feed fish; narrow passages and massive tides help concentrate the feed fish in fairly predictable areas. Enter the humpback whale. Most consume upwards of a third to a half ton of food per day while in Alaska.
Talk about a whale of an appetite.
Lunge feeding and bubble-netting are unique to the humpback whale and are often the reason for sightings. No demonstrations of cooperative feeding the day of our visit. You’ll have to settle for this amazing video from PBS.
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