Humpback Whales Alaska 2018

In between unpacking and re-packing, I've managed to grab a bit of time to process a few photos of humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae kuzira) from my recent visit to Alaska.

The first is a breach at night. It was just before 21:30. The sun was low, just about to set, casting a warm yellow-orange glow across the ocean surface. The humidity was high, and there was the hint of a rainbow developing in the background, visible in the photo behind and forward of the whale.

humpback whale breaching at night
Humpback whale breaching at night (License image)

I wasn't ready for this shot. No one was. The whale had breached a couple of times already, but too far to get a decent image, with the sun on the wrong side to boot. Jon sped up to reposition our boat, and seconds after he stopped, the whale came up. I reacted without thinking, just spun-and-shot without adjusting settings or focal length, or otherwise doing anything that a photographer is supposed to think about and do. Removing my brain from the equation worked well.

The next image is another breach, this one from a special experience. In short, we watched the break-up of a group of whales that had been bubble-net feeding together for several days. It was time to go their separate ways. The whales punctuated their parting with an extended show involving multiple breaches and pectoral slaps.

humpback whale breaching alaska
Humpback whale launching out of the water (License image)

Next is a group of humpback whales engaged in bubble-net feeding. The last light of the day raked across the landscape at a sharp angle, casting shadows and imparting mood.

humpback whales bubble-net feeding, alaska
Humpback whales bubble-net feeding (License image)

Here is a closer view of bubble-net feeding:

humpback whales bubble-net feeding
Humpback whales bubble-net feeding, lead whale mouth open (License image)

And finally, a fluke farewell at sunset:

humpback whale fluke at sunset
Humpback whale fluke at sunset (License image)

It's a simple image, one that wouldn't be anything special in normal light. The warm cast of summer sunset is something I like though.

I have more photos and more to say, but I'm out of time. Heading out the door again soon. 

Packing. Ugh.