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Humpback whale kills a bald eagle

July 15, 2009 Written by

Location: Inian Island, Icy Strait, southeast Alaska

Interesting trip this last week with less diving than normal and a lot more inflatable and skiff excursions to watch, observe and photograph all the neat animals up here – humpback whales, bald eagles, stellar sealions, sea otters, puffins, cormorants, oyster catchers and even orca’s. It’s a private charter and we are happy to oblige as best we can in giving our guests exactly what they want. We are anchored a mile away from a stellar sealion colony and I was very excited yesterday afternoon to see a solitary transient male orca swim by 20 feet behind the anchored Nautilus Explorer seeminly on his way to the “sea lion rock”. I thought we might see some predatory behaviour but alas, he continued on his way. I deliberately chose an anchorage on top of a shallow pinnacle surrounded by deep water in the hope that the upwellings would “bring in the humpbacks” and that’s exactly what happened – I woke up this morning to find 5 humpback whales feeding 50 feet off the side of the boat. And that was just the start of the day. One doesn’t think of humpback whales killing bald eagles but we have the pictures to show that is exactly what can happen.. One of our guests was photographing an eagle working a bait ball a couple of hundred feet from the boat when a humpback whale exploded from the water in a vertical feeding lunge. The spray from the whale knocked the eagle sideways who started frantically flapping his winds. The whale then sounded in typical fashion by lifting his tail fluke in the water – knocking the eagle senseless with his tail fin in the process. The whale submerged. The eagle floated briefly on the surface with his down in the water and then disappeared. One of our guests launched a kayak to try and help but the bald eagle had gone for his last scuba dive by the time anyone was able to kayak over. We have amazing photo’s of the entire sequence. Poor eagle. Captain Mike

Weather: Intermittent foggy periods, calm seas, light winds, temperature mid 60’s…

Water: Water temp 46 degrees, visibility 15 – 20 feet.



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