This is the reason to park the boat in the area of a bait ball but not on top of the ball. A humpback whales is very aware of its surroundings but I do not wish to test their awareness with the bottom of my boat because I think we might lose. Although it appears that this lunging humpback missed many of the herring it must have got enough to satisfy itself because there was not a second lunge.
By definition: A bait ball, or baitball, occurs when small fish swarm in a tightly packed spherical formation about a common center. It is a last-ditch defensive measure adopted by small schooling fish when they are threatened by predators. The occurrences of a herring ball is very common in the area we go for whale watching but photographs are not as common. Not common because bait balls attract whales and you do not want to be sitting over a ball of herring when a whale decides to feed. So we only approach the bait ball when there are no whales in sight and that does not happen often. See tomorrow’s post…
It is mid September at Grizzly Bear Lodge as one of the local fishing lodges is being towed back to its protected winter base. Aside from the variety of marine wildlife (orca, humpback whales, seals, sealions, dolphins, porpoise, bald eagles, many different water birds, swimming black bears) this area also has “work” related activities: commercial fishing; tugs towing floats, barges, log booms; cruise ships; seaplanes arriving and departing etc. That is to say there is never a dull moment on a tour and many opportunities for interesting photos.
Most often when humpback whales do their slapping they are nose down or hanging in the water. They may slap in an anterior or posterior position (belly or back) and either way it is loud. As with orca tail slapping humpbacks can be heard underwater by other whales many miles away so it may be used for communication or remove a build up of parasites and barnacles from the tail. The reason is interesting and the photos can be sensational.
Tail-Lobbing, Lobtailing, Tail-Slapping all means the same. This action is when an orca slaps its tail against the surface. It can get pretty loud, so some scientists think its probably a method of communication. The whales might also be trying to get rid of unwanted parasites, or they might just enjoy slapping the water! This killer whale is slapping just off the stern of our boat. Note that orca tend to be on their back when tail slapping….
In an instant the mother was in protective mode. Another grizzly appeared on the beach and even though the new bear was a hundred meters (yards) away mother was on alert. The new grizzly was a young male so the mother and cub continued up the beach and the male moved off the beach. No one wants to confront a mother with a cub.
If you have read much of the blog you will know that my camera is a waterproof Pentax Optio Wpi 6MP and 3X Optical Zoom. It is a good camera but does not have a “great” distance lens so I sometime zoom in with the computer and it gets a little “fuzzy”. The point being is that I saw the guest’s photo back at the lodge (because that is what happens in the evening) and they were great. In this photo the cub was using mother as a play toy but that all changed in tomorrow’s post….
We are loading the skiff to return to a float for our picnic lunch after a morning on Knight Inlet’s Glendale River viewing platform. The grizzly of yesterday’s post was further along the beach and yes we were safe even though I was taking photo’s I did have bear spray at hand. Note it was a day with five guests as there were two boats and guides as we only allow four per boat. Even if we ignored the bear or it was closer the key is that we were a large group (seven) and bear would leave, as it had no reason to come closer. We were not preventing it from feeding nor did it have a cub.
Today’s posted photo was takes just a few minutes after yesterdays posted photo. As a guide it is ideal to find a herring ball because herring are a humpback whales primary food. And if you station your boat near the herring a whale will come to feed. That is like “A Field of Dreams – build it and they will come”.