Humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) breaching, Icy Strait, Southeast Alaska, USA.
This was a breaching whale that left an unforgettable visual imprint in my memory for all time. I was camped in Icy Strait where there are usually many humpback whales, and the scenery is incredible, with a fantastic backdrop of the massive Fairweather Mountain Range bordering Glacier Bay. It was a beautiful, flat-calm, sunny morning and one whale had got off to a flying start. It was breaching repeatedly and I got off to an early start to try to catch up with it on the other side of Icy Strait.
Unfortunately by the time I got there it had stopped breaching, as always seemed to happen. I continued to paddle my kayak on that beautiful peaceful morning, gliding across the mirror-calm sea with the sound of the water dripping from my paddles amplified by the stillness. Then suddenly without any warning I could “feel” something erupting out of the water nearby so I spun around trying to locate the source of the disturbance. Glancing over my shoulder my view of the rising sun was eclipsed by the massive silhouette of the whale leaping out of the water, just a few metres behind my kayak; it had an auro of the sun’s rays around it like a religious icon. My jaw dropped with astonishment, and my heart must have skipped a few beats; and before I could react to protect myself or my camera there was a massive thud when the whale struck the water and I was drenched by a whale-sized, icy cold shower.
I suddenly felt very small and vulnerable in my kayak. I had experienced the whales so many times at close quarters, but it’s not until you can actually view one in its entirety hovering above you that you can really appreciate the scale of a whale!
- Duncan Murrell
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- Contained in galleries
- Humpback Whales - Other Behaviour