A Kayak With Killer Whales

10-20-2016

Dawn Pauley, Lead Expedition Guide, Wilderness Adventurer

It started off like any normal Alaskan day.

126 days had passed since the start of the season. As I prepared for my next kayaking trip, I studied the maps and decided to add a little more adventure in this one.

Many times have I explored the south bight of Neka Bay by kayak but today I decided to throw caution to the wind and head out into Neka Bay proper.

Neka Bay Kayaking Alaska

Every other time I had thought about venturing this way, my mind immediately went to analyzing the wind and current conditions.

Neka Bay proper has a huge tidal flat in the far back that fills and drains every 12 hours. Moving that enormous body of water through the narrow mouth of the bay can create quite the tidal current to compete against.

But that’s not the only hazard. The bay is long and straight, with no nooks to hide behind if the wind should decide to pick up.

With all the risks accounted for, we paddled off to explore the new territory. As we turned the corner into the bay the wind picked up and pushed us deeper into the bay. This was great for the paddle out but I knew it would make the trek back take twice as long.

At times we just lingered and let the wind and current be our only propulsion.

Kayaking in Neka Bay, Alaska

We didn’t encounter much wildlife as we drifted but the scenery more than made up for it. It was a picturesque little inlet. With the rain sprinkling down we watched the wispy clouds slowly move through the tree tops, giving the illusion that there was a slithery dragon hiding in the forest.

Fog in Neka Bay, Alaska

During the entire trek out, I was contemplating the tough paddle we had in store for us on the way back. I decided to play it safe and turn back early.

It was the best decision I have ever made.

We had been on the return for only about 20 minutes when I heard a noise that reverberated through to my core. The unmistakable sound of a whale exhaling as it surfaced.

I quickly turned to my left and noticed a large flock of gulls converging in one spot. Keeping my eyes fixed on this spot, my heart jumped as a large black dorsal fin, nearly six feet in height, slowly rose from the water. I shouted out loud, “Orca!!!”

Orcas Near Kayaking Group

Now, on rare occasions I have kayaked close to humpback whales, but never have I even heard stories of other guides being in the water with the mighty Orca before.

These stunning 30 foot long whales are the fastest cetaceans in the sea, traveling up to 35 miles per hour. My kayak group can hit a top speed of approximately three miles per hour, so it goes without saying that my expectations of getting close to these phenomenal creatures was slim to none.

View From The Kayak

But today luck was on our side. These four Orca were distracted while feeding on a large school of fish. We slowly paddled closer and closer to these charismatic eight ton beings.

I was astonished. We were able to get within 200 yards of them.

We watched the spectacle for half an hour, until out of nowhere they were gone. We scanned in every direction hoping to catch just one last glimpse, but they disappeared quicker than they had arrived.

When we returned to the Wilderness Adventurer, everyone was envious of our encounter. Try as we might to describe the events of the trip, it would never come close to seeing it with your own two eyes.

However, the day was not over yet.

Maybe it was the collective wishing of our all the passengers and crew alike, but for some reason the Orcas returned to the Wilderness Adventurer to give us one last show.

The same four we spotted before made a close cruise past the ship before disappearing off into the wild blue yonder.

Orcas Swim Away From The Wilderness Adventurer

It just goes to show that when you think your day will be nothing more than ordinary, it might just end up being the most memorable day of your life.



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