The days here are getting noticeably shorter…now it gets dark at night so we can finally see the Aurora Borealis (more on that after the whales)!   All of the aspen trees have turned bright yellow, so we are at the height of the fall color season.  Our time here in Alaska is running out.  We have at least one more exciting adventure planned before we head south. 


The road into Denali National Park is only open to private vehicles for the first 15 of the total 90 miles during the summer.  There are tour busses available for the masses to experience the park during the season.  There is an annual lottery at the end of every season where folks compete for the privilege to drive the entire 90 mile road.  They open the road for four days and allow a total of 400 vehicles per day into the park.  We were fortunate enough to win one of the slots, so on Friday, Sept 14th, between the hours of 5:30 AM and 9:00 PM, we’ll be deep in the heart of Denali!


On Saturday, August 25, we went out to see the whales on the M/V Taz out of Gustavus (I spelled it wrong in my earlier message!).  It was a 47 foot boat with 12 passengers and a crew of three, one of whom was 12 years old.


I think I mentioned earlier that our best sightseeing adventures were on these smaller boats.  There is just something different about how the passengers are treated when there are fewer than 20 as opposed to when there are more than 150!  Our two favorites were this one out of Gustavus and the one we did with Alaska Saltwater Lodge out of Seward.


Anyway, we set out around 8:30 AM into the foggy morning…and this is what we saw….

Whale behavior 101

Lobtailing and slapping

Lobtailing is the act of a whale or dolphin lifting their tail fluke out of the water and then bringing it down onto the surface of the water hard and fast in order to make a loud slap. Similarly, species with large flippers such as the humpback may also slap them against the water.


August 25, 2007 8:59:31 AM



August 25, 2007 8:59:31 AM



August 25, 2007 8:59:31 AM



August 25, 2007 8:59:32 AM



August 25, 2007 8:59:32 AM



August 25, 2007 8:59:17 AM




August 25, 2007 8:59:18 AM




August 25, 2007 8:59:20 AM


The notes at the bottom of the photos are from the EXIF (Exchangeable image file format) data which digital cameras include with each photo.  In addition to the time stamp the data also includes the camera settings.  The camera I use, a Canon 20D, allows me to hold down the shutter release and take multiple shots in succession, click, click, click…it’s a great camera.


Whale behavior 101…to be continued.








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