Sunday, July 22, 2012

Otters and Orcas

mother and baby sea otter
sea otters
Yesterday John took me out in his skiff. We zipped over to Afognak, then went around Whale Island, in to Port Bailey, and back to Anton Larsen. It's nice to have a friend with a fast boat! When we were in checking out Port Bailey, we saw bunches of sea otters with babies. The babies are pretty big this time of year, but they still cling onto their mothers. The one in the top photo was trying to climb onto its mother's head as we went by.

Just as we were in the back of that cove, two orcas surfaced in front of us. John shut off the engine and we watched them surface four more times as they went by us and then disappeared. The were in the far back of that little bay and seemed to be on their way out. They didn't seem like they were hunting, but the sea otters scattered nonetheless. I think orcas eat sea otters, which seems a little crazy to me - they can't be much more than fur balls!

I've seen tons of orcas (as has John), but I'm pretty sure I've never been this close to one before. As we watched them, I remember that some of the marine biologists who study whales in Kodiak like to get photos of their dorsal fins because individuals with distinctive fins can be easily identified and the whales and pods can be tracked. I was lucky to get some decent photos as they went by. The one has a pretty distinctive jagged dorsal fin, so I hope it will be useful to the whale biologists.

two orcas passing by

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