Whales and Bears in Glacier Bay

07-24-2014

By Kent Redella, expedition guide, Wilderness Adventurer

This week on the Wilderness Adventurer, we took guests on another week of spectacular travels in Glacier Bay. It seems like the wildlife is getting more active in anticipation of the salmon runs.

More than ten separate Coastal Brown Bear sightings exceeded expectations--foraging bears, sow and cub sightings, and even a rock climbing bear continually captivated both passengers and staff.

bears

Brown bears foraging for goodies on the shoreline

As if bear sightings weren’t enough, Captain Will rolled up on a pod of five humpback whales cooperatively bubble net feeding during dinner service. Generally people are acquainted with dinner being an activity that is seldom interrupted, but here on the Wilderness Adventurer cruising in Alaska, it is commonplace. We interrupt dinner for whales.

Bubble net feeding is a cooperative behavior exhibited by humpback whales, considered a relatively special experience to witness. The whales swim in circles around a school of bait fish, expelling air bubbles underwater that ‘herd’ the schooling fish toward the center. Once the fish have been concentrated within the bubble net, the whales will simultaneously swim to the surface, driving the fish to the surface, where they have nowhere to go except into the large baleen plated mouths of the humpbacks.

whales

Humpback whales bubble net feeding in Alaska

To see this behavior once or twice is special, but to see it displayed ten times within an hour was quite an unreal experience.

Seeing these whales swim and breach gives passengers an idea of how large and impressive these animals are, but in addition, to see any cooperative behavior such as bubble netting makes one question the level of intelligence required to execute an ingenious way to catch more food in a more communal effort.

hiking

Hiking in Glacier Bay National Park

Wilderness Adventurer

Wilderness Adventurer with kayaks ready



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