A Mentally Unbalanced Humpback Whale?

Location: Point Adolphus and Inian Island, Icy Strait, southeast Alaska.

Comments: Point Adolphus is one of our favourite places to watch humpback whales in southeast Alaska. It is located right across Icy Strait from the entrance to Glacier Bay and gets hit with upwellings and swirls of nutrient rich water. It’s a great place to watch whales, sea lions, eagles and – on occasion – small pocket cruise ships! I have found that humpback whale behaviour is fairly predictable with the big guys typically either feeding, fluking, logging on the surface, breaching, spyhopping or interacting with other whales. We see 1200 of this same population down at Socorro/Revillagigedos every winter and spring although the animals behave far differently down there – the male humpbacks sing their hearts out and seem far more interested in, ahem, “strengthening their genetic stock.”

Anyways, we saw one young adult today who defied any description of humpback whale behaviour that I have ever observed. Bob (which is what we named this guy) was hanging out with stellar sea lions instead of other humpback whales. Not only was Bob hanging out and interacting with 10-20 sea lions at a time, but he also seemed to be mimicking their behaviour. Twisting and turning on the surface and throwing himself from side to side. Bob was even doing barrel rolls and swimming along on his back. Even more oddly, Bob approached the Nautilus Explorer a couple of times with his head out of the water – just like a sea lion. All I can say is that never before have I seen a humpback whale that so clearly wanted to be a sea lion.

–Captain Mike


Weather: Cloudy skies with sunny breaks, calm seas, calm winds, temperatures in the high 50’s.

Water: Water temperature 45°F, 20 – 35 foot visibility

By Nautilus Staff

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