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Fishing Fail…Whale-watching Success!

April 10, 2011

As the title suggests, despite getting up at 4am and driving to Seward, we didn’t get to go fishing yesterday. Since we were the first charter of the season the boats were just being brought out from their winterization. The little boat that we were on had gotten a new engine the day before and apparently it hadn’t quite worked out all the gremlins. But of course, we didn’t know that when we headed out into Resurrection Bay.

Heading out into the bay…cold, but excited to catch some halibut!

We got about 3/4 of the way across Resurrection Bay when the engine started sputtering. The 2 guys running our small boat weren’t able to fix it, so we had to take a slow cruise back to the harbor. We were pretty disappointed (especially one of the guys who had just come up from Altus, OK for a few days), but the weather was perfect! It got warmer as the sun came up and we had a nice little cruise of the bay.

Howdy and I were originally going to fish with our friend Mike and his friend Dave, while their wives (both named Mary) went on a whale-watching cruise with the kids. We got back to the harbor in time to get a hot breakfast and some coffee, and then meet up with them and go whale-watching too!

Everything’s better when there’s sunshine and coffee!

I can’t emphasize enough what an absolutely clear and gorgeous day it was! Resurrection Bay is breathtaking on its own, and I’m glad that I was able to see it in all its glory on my first trip down there. The whale-watching (and other wildlife) cruise started at noon, and we headed back out into the bay.

We got to go into a couple of the small coves, and saw several little houses like the one below. The only way to get to it is by boat or with a little seaplane. They are definitely isolated way out here…

You’ll notice that the water in the picture above has a kind of teal color to it. The water is not clear here the way it is in places like Hawaii, but it’s not because it’s dirty. Although the water here is some of the cleanest in the world, the ocean around Alaska also has one of the largest plankton blooms in the world, and it’s all of the nutrients in the water that makes it look like that. The plankton is also what brings all the whales here.  Whales (like the humpback whales) migrate from the tropical ocean water around places like Hawaii, to Alaska, and back. In Hawaii they mate and give birth in the warmer waters, but they are basically fasting the entire time they are there and lose about a third of their body weight. The baby whales (calves) would die of hypothermia if they were born in the cold Alaskan waters. When they are big enough, they make the long journey back to Alaska to feast on the plankton. An adult whale can make the trip in about a month, but a mother with her baby takes quite a bit longer.

We saw lots of wildlife on this cruise… Seven pods of Dall Porpoises (they look like mini orcas), Sea Otters, Bald Eagles, a HUGE group of Sea Lions sunning themselves on the rocks:

This is only a small group of the sea lions, there was a huge rock to the right that had over a hundred more.

We also saw lots of different birds. They told us the names, but I forgot all of them. Oops! The only thing that stuck in my mind was that the guy kept saying there is not an actual bird called a “seagull”, but many types of gulls that are often called that. The gulls we saw live their lives primarily floating around on the water and eating fish, but they come near land to nest, and since it’s almost Spring, they were everywhere.

We were told the stories behind many of the islands we passed:

Hat Island

Fox Island

Bunkers Rugged Island

The story behind this island (you can also see all the little white gulls flying around the base) that sits right at the opening into Resurrection Bay, has to do with the tiny WWII military outpost at the very top. There was another small outpost further in the bay on the mainland (read: more sheltered), and it was a punishment for anyone who complained about anything at the other outpost to be sent to this island instead. If you look VERY hard you can see it at the very highest point in the picture above. In the picture below, I took a slightly more close-up view of the little building at the top:

And of course, no whale-watching cruise would be complete if we didn’t get to see some whales! We were really lucky  to get to see two Humpback Whales (a mother and baby), as well as an adult Fin Whale (approx. 60ft long). Unfortunately I only had my point and shoot camera with me, and since I was under the impression my photo-ops of the day would be limited to 3 guys and myself fishing halibut, I wasn’t able to zoom in and get really good shots of the whales, but you can kind of see the flukes in these:

We also saw Bear Glacier, which is the largest glacier in Harding Ice Field (the largest ice field contained entirely in the United States). It’s the flat-ish white part between the mountains. (again, the point-and-shoot can only zoom so far :)) :

It was a great day, and even though we didn’t get to come home with any fish this time, we definitely had an exciting day seeing all the wildlife and the beautiful views around Resurrection Bay. Plus, the halibut charter is going to give us a nice discounted rate to re-book for later in the season – win! 🙂

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10 Comments leave one →
  1. Jen B permalink
    April 10, 2011 4:38 pm

    Amazing! Your pictures are gorgeous, even with the point and shoot. 😉 Looks like you were blessed with a beautiful day and all turned out well in the end!

  2. jill permalink
    April 10, 2011 11:42 pm

    ok…I forgive the earlier tease post! The pictures are absolutely gorgeous even with the point and shoot. Glad you were able to salvage your day with a wonderful whale watch!

  3. April 11, 2011 11:10 am

    I want to come visit….

    • April 11, 2011 1:53 pm

      My guest room is open anytime! 😉

  4. Lauren Coburn permalink
    April 11, 2011 8:50 pm

    wow mm! your pictures are amazing! AND i am so excited to see YOU in some of them! xo

  5. April 25, 2011 1:51 pm

    girl, your pictures are amazing! seriously!

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