DAY 10 — “HONK! HONK!” They are really whales—eight to 10 of them right in front of the boat alternately spewing water high in the air, honking and “fluking”—diving for food and showing us their magnificent tails. We watch them “blow” spewing water high into the air. It’s fun to watch them!
There is a mama and a baby (imagine a 25-ton baby!) flapping and breeching and spewing.
“What a great show,” says Faith Barnes.
PHOTOS “The best breaching all year,” adds the owner of our boat, Kimber Owen. We’ve been watching these magnificent creators for more than two hours.
It is our last morning aboard the 12-passenger Sea Wolf (www.seawolfadventures.net) on our Thomson Family Adventure (www.familyadventures.com). We’re in Icy Straits, an area in Alaska south of Glacier National Park where we’ve spent the last week cruising, kayaking, checking out wildlife. We have a board that notes what we’ve seen — two black bear, five brown bears, at least 35 Stellar Sea Lions, four Harbor Seals, seven Bald Eagles, 12 different birds (the yellow-beaked Horned Puffin and the Tufted Puffin with its yellow mane) are my favorite.
This morning we spend watching the humpback whales that have come here from Hawaii, making the journey in as little as 30 days. According to the National Park Service, whales rely on their hearing for most everything we use our eyes — navigating, finding food, detecting predators. These are huge creatures. There is a baby and a mama diving! “Yahoo!” the crowd of watchers on our boat yell! “Do it again!”
And they do- again and again. There are some 137 whales in these waters, we learn. The baby we’re watching likely was born in Hawaii last winter and will return with her mama in just a few more weeks. We don’t get tired of watching their antics. It’s like a baby who does the same thing again and again-flapping its fins, blowing water, and trying to dive.
“So cute,” says Gail Blacutt. “It was awesome to watch them.”
So close too—just 100 yards from our boat.
“Such a great trip,” says Laurie Redmond, who is from Las Vega and traveling with her two teenage sons. “The small ship is definitely the way to go.” Certainly this is considerably more expensive than a cruise ship, but for nature lovers, you can’t beat the experience.
Another plus — being away from email and computers and the daily routines. “The sheer beauty…I had no idea it was so massive, so untouched,” adds Redmond. There is also the chance to share this wilderness with her sons without everyone distracted by TV, computers, cell phones and more.
“So many other beautiful places there are so many people,” adds Gail Blacutt, traveling with her 15 year old son Jacob. “Here we’ve hardly seen anyone else.”
Just Whales and Bears, birds and harbor seals, sea otters and sea lions…And that’s the way it should be, I guess.
“So peaceful,” Gail said at dinner last night. Even the kids are impressed by the sheer majesty. You don’t realize how big and beautiful it really is till you see it, observed 13 year old Miles Singer.
“I liked kayaking to the glaciers and getting that close,” added 11 year old Charlotte Majercik. It is so different when you see them up close, she added.
Her 14 year old brother Xander added that he was glad to know America still has such spectacular places
Kimber Owen, the naturalist who owns the boat, is pleased with what the kids have taken away from the experience. “It is always awesome and it is always changing,” she tells the kids.
I think they get it. I hope they do — I hope they’ll think about Kimber and Glacier Bay and realize how important preserving places like this are whether in Alaska or closer to home.
I hope they go home understanding that they don’t need cell phones and the internet and video games to amuse themselves — not when there is a big world out there full of such wonderful creatures.
“HONK,” I hear another whale. I could keep watching them..but it’s time for lunch.