“Whale Day”

By , April 26, 2010

The herring run continues in fits and starts. They’ve spawned in Mud Bay, but continue to cruise our rocks in small shoals. The eulachon (more commonly called “hooligan”) or candlefish runs have started early on both the Chilkat and Chilkoot Rivers, so our usual parade of marine predators is outside our view shed completely on many days as they head toward the river mouths to feed. Recently, though, a stronger herring shoal came through, giving us a prime “whale day.”

A humpback whale fishes through our bight. (Photo: Aly Zeiger.)

A humpback passed through bight several times, hugging the rocks closely. Ahead of it, herring boiled out of the water and ricocheted off the rocks. We could tell it was a better-than-usual sighting, because we actually got photos. As the whale passed in front of us, we could clearly see its entire body underwater.

I tossed the gill net over the side of the rocks in a terrible, snarled cast, but within a short time I’d netted over a gallon of herring, some of which became that afternoon’s lunch.

Out in the fjord, a large pod of killer whales swept north, then south. Humpback sightings continued throughout the day, filling a couple of pages of our Wildlife Journal. All of this occurred on a warm, sunny day. Priceless!

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