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Monday, July 23, 2012

Alaskan Photo Safari - Day Six

The ubiquitous Alaskan fishing boat

State ferry of the Alaska Marine Highway System
Magnificent Humpback breaching in Frederick Sound

Beautiful scenery from SE Alaska

SE Alaska and the Tongass National Forest in particular, is a temperate rain forest. In fact, it is the second largest rain forest after the Amazon. Not surprisingly, it rains a lot. The vegetation is lush and verdant, the air is clean and covered with low hanging clouds and mist. On a beautiful day, the scenery is simply spectacular.

On the seas, one would find the solitary fishing boats, out on a few days to catch halibut, salmon, crab and other seafood to bring back for immediate processing, then cold storage and shipment to worldwide locations. State ferries from the Alaska Marine Highway System can be seen plying the waters bringing needed supplies and passengers along the entire coast of Alaska.

I have been going out on a small boat everyday in Frederick Sound trying to find wildlife.  Most days are dreary with light rain, very low clouds and sometimes accompanied by thick fog.  Finding wildlife is challenging in these conditions.  The Humpbacks feed all through the day until darkness but finding them is not as easy as advertised. They will submerge themselves often to feed on the food found 100 feet or more below the surface and occasionally surfacing to breathe. This makes getting a good action photograph of them very tough. Unlike during the winter in Maui, where most these whales return to mate and give birth. There the whales do not feed at all and they spend more time on the surface so there are more opportunities to get good action shots.

Since most whales are ravenous, there is little time for frolicking. The majority of their time is spent on feeding and resting.  I came across a mother and calf pair resting just below the surface of the water. They were so quite it took me a while to realize they were there.  Most of the time, the whales are quite far and I have to use the Canon EOS-7D camera to get the additional focal length.  I am also trying to test my new Canon EOS-1D  X camera but most of the action is so far away right now, the opportunity to use the new equipment is limited.  Catching the breaching Humpback in Frederick Sound is very satisfying for me. It is not often one sees this kind of behavior during the summer feeding season and the angle is also quite good.  Hope to get more shots like this before I leave.

Heard from other boats captains that they have sighted Orcas in the area recently. This is very welcome news and if I can find them, it will be a great treat because Killer Whales are not found here in these waters regularly. More waiting and searching for the next few days. Stay tuned.

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