Focus on: Whales

It’s hard to believe that our cruise is only a few weeks away.  The anticipation is building and that is a good thing.  We’re feeling a little nervous about negotiating the air travel part of it, as we have not flown since the changes were implemented  after 9/11.  But it will all work out and before we know it we will be cruising north to Alaska.  I purchased a new journal to record my experiences in.  I don’t want to take too many expensive electronic items with me, so I’ll leave my trusty laptop home and  document my trip the old-fashioned way – with paper and pen. Maybe I’ll take along a few sketch pencils as well – illustrated journals are a great way to capture the experience, as well as photographs.

my journal

My instructor in my travel photography course suggested we pick a theme for our trip, and perhaps have a small item that appears often in the pictures. to pull it all together – kind of like Where’s Waldo.  I’ve decided my theme will be “In search of the wild and the free”.  I’ll focus on the wilderness terrain, the mountains, glaciers and the animals and people who inhabit this great northern land. My special object will be revealed in my next post.

We’ve been considering which shore excursions we would like to take.  The one I’m most interested in is the Medenhall Glacier and whale watching excursion.  We’ll be driven out to the glacier and have a chance to explore it, and then take a small boat out to find the whales.  I really hope to see a humpback whale.

Whales are amazing creatures – living their lives in the sea,and yet, as mammals, they must surface frequently to breathe the air.  The Blue Whale is the largest creature on the face of the earth – even larger than the ancient dinosaurs.  The Humpback whales, once hunted to near extinction, now number 80,000 worldwide.  The male humpback whales sing songs, some 10 to 30 minutes long, that can be repeated for up to 24 hours .Theories as to their purpose range from mating rituals, to challenges to other males, to communication within a specific population.  All the males in the same population sing the same song. The songs can be heard by other whales miles away.  To hear the Humpback whale sing, just search Humpback Whale Song.  You’ll be surprised how many recordings there are.!

Mother humpbacks nurse their calves for up to a year.  They can be seen swimming with their flippers touching the mother whale, considered to be an expression of affection.

Many years ago I adopted a humpback whale named Ivory.  Humpback whales are named by the markings on their flukes.(tails)  Ivory’s fluke  is almost all white, hence the name Ivory. Her nickname is Purity.  She was first photographed in 1979.  She is the mother of at least ten calves and the grandmother of at least one – her daughter Whisk was spotted with her calf Saturna in 1993.  I get updates from the WDCS (Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society) on Ivory. She was last spotted in the spring of 2010. I hope to get another sighting soon so I know she is all right. I won’t spot Ivory in Alaska as she lives off the coast of New England and Nova Scotia, Canada.  But I hope to spot another of her kind.

Ivory’s adoption papers

If anyone is interested in adopting a humpback whale, just visit  An adoption only costs $30.00, and the money goes to protect the remaining humpback whale population.

If you’d like to view a delightful movie about humpback whales check out Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.   Part comedy, part drama, it is nonetheless a cautionary tale of the impact we have on today’s environment and how it can affect events far off in the future.  You don’t have to be a Star Trek fan to enjoy this one. You’ll laugh, you’ll root for the whales and you will hear the humpback whale sing.a song to save our planet.

My Whale Ivory

Although I will probably never get to meet Ivory in person, I do have a video of her swimming free in the ocean.  And that image is enough for me.  And I suspect Ivory is intelligent enough to be grateful for a group of land dwelling mammals who work to protect and defend her and the other magnificent whales of our world. That is our song..

(more on whales (and walruses! in my next post)


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s