Too close to a humpback whale off Pt. Adolphus

Location: Pt. Adolphus, Icy Strait, southeast Alaska.
Pt. Adolphus is located across from the entrance to Glacier Bay. It  is current swept with lots of upwellings, loaded with nutrients and it’s a fabulous place to watch humpback whales, sealions, bald eagles, great flocks of seagulls and even the odd grizzly bear on the beach. Sometimes the trickiest part of visiting this area is actually staying out of the way of the whale. Which is exactly what  happened today. We were happily meandering along on a steady course and very low speed and watching humpback whales spouting, feeding and fluking all around us at a distance in compliance with marine mammal regulations.  All of a sudden, a group of animals in front of us made a hard turn and came straight at the Nautilus Explorer. If I wasn’t sure that they are not dangerous to a ship like the Nautilus, I would have been quite nervous.  These guys weigh over 100,000 lbs and they were on a trajectory heading straight for our bow.  We ripped the engines out of gear and came to a stop and these big beautiful whales chose to pass 20 feet away from us. It was amazing. And then it got even better. An individual humpie broke away from his friends and started tail slapping right beside us. RIGHT BESIDE us!  His version of tail slapping involved doing a headstand and lifting half his body out of the water and then slapping it down hard on the surface.  20 feet away from us.  Again and again and over again.  After 3 – 5 slaps he would stop, come to the surface with a noisy exhalation (spouting), dive back down and do the same thing all over again. When you consider that we were drifting along at a good clip in the current, this guy had to be working at staying right beside us. Clearly his choice. The only bad thing was when a small floatplane belonging to Alaska Fish and Game flew over. I hope they read this and get the real story on what was going on with the humpback whale happily and cheerfully splashing us with his tail!! Captain Mike
Surface Conditions: Beautiful calm seas, high broken clouds, calm winds.  Air temperature mid 60’s.

By Nautilus Staff

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