Alaska Inside Passage Mammals

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Steve Barten
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Alaska Inside Passage Mammals

Post by Steve Barten » September 20th, 2013, 2:33 pm

We cruised the Inside Passage of Alaska in a small ship, only 32 passengers, with the advantage that the captain could stop or even turn around when wildlife was spotted. We were there for a week in May of 2012. We saw a ton of wildlife, and I’ll post the mammals here and the birds from this trip in the FHF Bird Forum.
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The first mammals seen were Sea Otters in the Sitka Harbor.
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Next a pod of Orcas came by. Orcas were the species I was most hoping to see on this trip and this is one of my favorite shots.
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I asked the captain if Orcas were always seen and he said, no, only on about a third of the trips. We saw them three times.
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Humpback whales were seen almost every day.
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We saw the Humbacks lunge feeding, coming to the surface with open mouths and distended throats as they scooped up schools of herring.
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This Coastal Brown Bear was grazing on grass along the shore. In the spring they eat up to 35 pounds of grass a day. Their eyesight is poor but their sense of smell is keen. When the wind shifted and he got a whiff of us, he turned and bolted into the woods.
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Here’s a different pod of Orcas.
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We saw Dall’s Porpoises several times. They would rocket past the ship and were difficult to photograph due to their speed, but were beautiful in their stark black and white colors.
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Steller Sea Lions. Steller was a German Explorer and naturalist who sailed with Russian Captain Bering and reached Alaska in 1741. He discovered the Sea Otter and has several animals named after him, including this Sea Lion, the extinct Steller Sea Cow, Steller’s Jay, Steller’s Sea Eagle, and Steller’s Eider.
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Harbor Seals.
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Mountain Goat, as close as we got.
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Cropped > 100%
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Harbor Porpoise, the only ones we saw, late in the day with the sun reflecting the green of the trees onto the water.
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Sow Bown Bear and cubs
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We were in kayaks for these photos.
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She hung around until this boar Bear came along, then she and the cubs high tailed it into the woods. Boar bears often kill cubs that aren’t their own.

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More Humbacks
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Where they get their name.
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And finally, more Steller Sea Lions. We photographed these from an inflatable during a rain storm.
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We didn’t see any herps but we saw a ton of wildlife. Thanks for looking.

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mrichardson
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Re: Alaska Inside Passage Mammals

Post by mrichardson » September 21st, 2013, 12:44 pm

Looks like a fantastic trip! Thanks for posting.

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Curtis Hart
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Re: Alaska Inside Passage Mammals

Post by Curtis Hart » October 25th, 2013, 6:55 pm

I must have missed this as I was traveling when it was posted. Excellent post! You were able to get some great shots of some great species.

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Hans Breuer (twoton)
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Re: Alaska Inside Passage Mammals

Post by Hans Breuer (twoton) » October 27th, 2013, 3:16 am

Beautiful stuff!!! Thanks for sharing!

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BillMcGighan
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Re: Alaska Inside Passage Mammals

Post by BillMcGighan » October 27th, 2013, 6:21 am

Ditto
Thanks for that, Steve.

The first Steller's seal pic really captures the whole picture with the Bald Eagle in the background!

Tamara D. McConnell
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Re: Alaska Inside Passage Mammals

Post by Tamara D. McConnell » October 27th, 2013, 7:08 am

Such a stunningly beautiful post! The lone harbor seal laying on the ice, looking towards the camera, is brilliant. I also love the single seal poking its head out of the water.
Now I am going to take my camera outside and smash it with a big rock.

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Antonsrkn
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Re: Alaska Inside Passage Mammals

Post by Antonsrkn » October 27th, 2013, 2:24 pm

I missed this post also, I'm glad it got brought back up, its spectacular! Really amazing photos and wildlife encounters! If you don't mind I'm curious about a few things; what focal length lens were you using (to get an idea of how close you were)? How much does a trip like this cost? How much did you get to Kayak?

And again, amazing thanks for sharing!

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Steve Barten
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Re: Alaska Inside Passage Mammals

Post by Steve Barten » November 5th, 2013, 8:32 am

Thanks, everyone.
Antonsrkn: I had a very sharp 70-200 f2.8, a 300 f4, and a 1.4 TC (but next time I do this I would rent a 200-400 f4 or a 500 f4). The cool thing about the small ship was that we could get closer to wildlife than one could on one of those 4,000-passenger cruise ships.
Cost – I don’t remember exactly, but it was an inclusive tour that included continuing education lectures (thus I could let me business pay for my trip; I had to pay for my wife’s). There was a package that covered pre-trip meals, on board meals, taxis to and from the local airports, and so on. We had to arrange our flights to and from Alaska ourselves.
We were able to kayak two or three times when we were anchored in secluded bays. We spent 24 hours in Wyndham bay and got to do a lot of kayaking there.
Again, thanks for the compliments. Keep an eye out for a post on this year’s coastal brown bear trip that I’m working on.

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Roki
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Re: Alaska Inside Passage Mammals

Post by Roki » November 27th, 2013, 1:16 pm

Cool post. Congrats on seeing the Orcas. Those would be wonderful to see someday.
Roki

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