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Finding Bubble Net Feeding Whales


Crew, Safari Endeavour

It always starts as a secret.

We’re still several miles away and there’s no guarantee that wild animals will stay still. You’ll find the first whisperings on the bridge where guides and officers on watch have been sitting with binoculars, eyes scanning the open water for the tell-tale signs of wildlife.

Then, a fine pillar of mist off the port bow betrays the hidden denizens of the ocean; whales.

Safari Endeavour with whales

The course of the Safari Endeavour shifts slightly to port, and the distance begins to close. Every so often, the whales surface to breathe and our course is slightly adjusted.

The secret starts to leak out.

Some sharp-eyed guests have started to become cognizant of the whale evidence, people notice that binoculars are out in full force on the bow, photographers start looking for their zoom lenses.

Then, with one announcement, the interior spaces of the boat empty out and the outer decks are full.

Finding a humpback whale in Chatham Strait is exciting enough, but to find a group of six that happen to be cooperatively bubble net feeding? Well, that’s a rare treat.

Working as a team, one whale will swim in a circle blowing bubbles around the prey. Then the remaining whales swim in unison up the middle of the bubble circle, mouths open, filter feeding in the bountiful Alaskan waters.

Bubble net feeding is a fantastic spectator’s sport. With the proper conditions, the net is seen from the surface. There is silent anticipation on the bow of the boat until someone points and calls out, “Over there!”

Bubbles break on the surface of the ocean in an arc, and just as the circle closes, the wide open mouths of the whales erupt in the center of the ring.

A few hours later, guests are gathered in the lounge, giddy with excitement at the end of an amazing day in Alaska, when a commotion erupts from the front of the lounge and the bow.

Our whale show isn’t done yet.

One of our cetacean friends has decided to be a little playful. Once again the outer decks of the Safari Endeavour fill with spectators as we watch this whale propel itself out of the water in repeated breaches.

We are sure to express our appreciation for this display with enthusiastic shouts, yells, and waves.

After fifteen minutes of holding us in rapt attention, the breaches turn into slaps of the pectoral fin as if to wave us goodbye and good luck.

We wave back to our new friend and bid them farewell as the Safari Endeavour turns northward, picks up speed, and whisks us away to our next adventure.

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