10348937_10204454194093758_5067044562921223557_oIt was day three of our trip. We were paddling in Beartrack Cove in the Beardslee Islands. It was 5 AM. Light crept from behind white peaks toward dark blue clouds in the sky. The ocean was calm and blue-gray in color with patches of round kelp bulbs floating on its glassy surface. Suddenly we heard the unmistakable hissing of whale breaths nearby. These loud breaths can be heard from a long distance away, but these whales sounded very close.

10553929_10204454255415291_2608588819695046474_oWe rounded a corner and found two Humpback Whales feeding in a kelp bed. They wallowed in the kelp, their huge fins flopping above the water surface. Their breaths sounded more like deep roars than gentle hisses at this closer range. These 40 ton whales seemed completely focused on feeding. We slowly backed up as they rolled around and fed for a few minutes before moving on. We felt pretty small floating around in our boats compared to the size of the whales. After all, 40 tons is equivalent to the weight of about 500 people. These whales were huge.

10483160_10204454274735774_5346759826642467787_oThat was our closest encounter, and we continued to see Humpback Whales almost every day during the rest of our trip. We would joke about reaching our whale quota for the day because they seemed to reliably appear on a daily basis. Often we would just be enjoying a quiet campsite on a beach when suddenly a whale would randomly surface nearby, hissing loudly, dorsal fin arching gracefully above the water surface. Sometimes we would be paddling our boats when we would hear the whales nearby and see them swimming at the surface, usually travelling about the same speed as our kayaks.

10355655_10204488430989659_8977920627001497787_o (Large)It was always exciting to see their huge fins and tails break the surface of the water. Humpback whales have even been known to acrobatically leap into the air, which is referred to as breaching. We really wanted to see a whale breach, as long as it didn’t happen too close to our kayaks. We didn’t end up seeing a breach this trip, which is just another reason to return to Glacier Bay in the future to visit the whales again.

It was exciting and a bit intimidating to be in our small sea kayaks with these giant whales in the water nearby. Viewing them from the surface of the water really accentuated their size and power.

Category: Sea Kayaking
Lisa Hackett

About the Author

Hi, I’m Lisa. I’m a tall, blonde superhero and I live in a van. I do it all. I rappel big waterfalls, drive from Idaho to Alaska solo, live and work in a van in the wilderness and dodge encounters with wolves and bears. Seriously. More

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About the Author

Hi, I’m Lisa. I’m a tall, blonde superhero and I live in a van and on a sailboat with my superhero husband, Brian. I do it all. I rappel big waterfalls, scuba dive with sharks, dodge encounters with bears and wolves, and work remotely as a full time computer programmer.
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About the Van

Hi, I’m Vanifest. I’m a big, 4x4, off-the-grid van complete with solar panel for power. I'm a 2000 Dodge Ram Van and Lisa has had me since 2009. Read more about me here.


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