Bubble net feeding humpback whales at Juneau, Alaska

The perfect place to buy diamond jewellery is Juneau, every second shop is a jewellery shop, with diamonds, being the most popular, followed by tanzanite, a jewel from Africa. Juneau is the capital city of Alaska.  The Celebrity Century docks at Juneau at 7am and we have disembarked by 10am for a walk around the town.  We don’t have a lot of time to explore, as again we need our 5 bodies, so we can experience everything. Our lovely ladies from Toronto have chosen to ride the tramway up to the top of Mount Roberts, which overlooks the town. From the top there are hiking trails, eating places, you can see artisans crafting timber animals and totem poles.

Bryce our bus driver is very chatty and tells us about his childhood in Juneau and points out the bald eagles, which are numerous. They are perched high up in the trees, ready to swoop down to the river, as it flows into the inlet and we can see the salmon jumping, a ready meal for the eagles.Our catamaran travels up Favorite Channel, with  two levels, the top is open air and a perfect viewing place to photograph the wildlife.  It is softly raining, so I stay inside until after about twenty minutes we eventually come across some Orca whales playing and moving through the water.  We follow them for quite a while as they play with each other, sometimes a family of three, at other times in singles.We leave the Orca’s reluctantly, but our Captain tells us his sister boat has come across a large pod of humpbacks which are feeding.

What a spectacle, as we watch them bubble net feeding, spouting and flipping their tails.  Then they will dive and disappear under the water. Our naturalist estimates there are about twelve in the pod.  We watch the seagulls to try and pick where the whales will come up next, but sometimes even the birds are tricked and they will do a 180 degree turn and pop up a distance away in the opposite direction to what we last saw them swimming. We can smell whale breath before we see them, it is not very pleasant.  The excitement is building. There are numerous boats following the whales, some private and smaller tourist boats and all trying to work out where they will make an appearance. We are about 200 metres from another large tourist boat and all of a sudden the pod breaks through, they are bubble net feeding. Under the water the whales will rotate in a circle, herding the fish into the middle of them. Then they will surface, again in a circle, catching as many fish in their jaws as they can. What a spectacle. They look so close to the other tourist boat, I am sure they would have been sprayed as they spouted and splashed in a frenzy of feeding.

I stopped photographing and turned the camera to video mode and just stood and watched and  filmed as they performed for us.

Juneau certainly knew how to turn on a whale show. A photograph of a lifetime, capturing humpback whales bubble net feeding.

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