Thursday, February 04, 2010

Feburary 1, 2010 Breaker Island and Whales

Wow, do I have some fun adventures to most recent was finding whales right in our own front yard so to speak.  The ocean just in front of the station had been teeming with pods of Humpback whales.  It happened on our day off and there were a couple of zodiacs available all day for the station support personnel usage.  Groups of 5 or 6 went out for hours at a time and then come back and more would go out.  Do you know what the Humpbacks were doing? 

They were bubblenet feeding.  This is the most amazing, interesting story, so pay attention....

There is a pod of whales, in our case this day, we personally saw a pod of three Humpbacks feeding. 

What they were feeding on was Krill, the tiny crustaceans that look like little shrimp. 
You have one whale that dives deep and starts coming to the surface in a circle blowing bubbles on it's way up. 
Another make noises to scare the krill into the net of bubbles where they feel trapped and can't get out. 

Krill just don't like bubbles, it scares them. 

Another whale comes from below to also help herd the krill into the bubble net and then the whales all swim up through the bubble net with their mouths wide open and gulp as many Krill as they possible can grab.  Their mouths open really big and expand to trap as many krill as they can.  They do this over and over and over for hours. 

Here you can see the how big his jowls open to grab as many krill as he can. 

The Kelp gulls hang out waiting for scraps that the Humps leave behind. 

We had to say goodbye so another group could come out.  Bye bye Humps!  Thanks for the show!

January 22nd  Breaker Island

This day was the week prior to the Whale story.  I went out with a small group in a zodiac and we wandered around the islands close to us. 

There was Breaker Island that juts out of the waters edge straight up into the sky.  The ocean around it is usually very turbulent.  Today it wasn't.  It was a day to go exploring on Breaker. 

I was nervous at first.  I knew I could scale the rock to get up to the top, but I had never been here before and I was afraid I might not be able to get back down. 

The island was just rock with some lichen growing on it and it had three Giant Petrel bird nests on top of our peak where we landed.  Only one was occupied and it was far enough away we didn't scare the bird sitting on the nest.

I only have pictures of my descent and someone else took my picture while I gingerly made my way back down to the boat.

See the ledges we have to climb down...

It's kind of steep...

I'm hanging on to the rope and slowly make my way back down.

I slip into the boat...

....and I made it SAFELY! 

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