Just finished a successful 12th summer of TDI researchers studying North Pacific humpback whales in their feeding grounds in Frederick Sound, Alaska and its various connecting bays and channels. Aboard the awesome vessel Northern Song with captain Dennis K. Rogers and fellow naturalist Jim Nahmens, and under NOAA Permit 19655, the goals of TDI’s project were to document individual humpback whales visiting these waters and whether our Kewalo Basin Marine Mammal Laboratory, The Dolphin Institute, and UH Hilo labs have also seen them in the Hawaiian breeding grounds, examine long-term site fidelity of individuals, and study the behavior and long-term associations of whales in cooperative feeding groups. In addition to great weather and many observations of group bubble net feeding, we identified whales we have sighted for decades! Together with our enthusiastic participants and the assistance of first mate Stephanie, we also enjoyed amazing gourmet creations by Chef Therese, spent a wonderful day kayaking at Sawyer Glacier, observed sea lions and eagles, photographed brown bears hunting salmon at Hidden Falls, enjoyed Baranof warm springs, and fished for rock fish and halibut. To cap it off, after returning to Petersburg yesterday afternoon, gave a community presentation on our latest research findings on variations in humpback whale female habitat use when with a calf versus without a calf to an enthusiastic crowd. Thank you Northern Song, Dennis, Petersburg folks, and of course the amazing humpback whales that allow us to “peak” into their world and their individual lives.
If you would like to join Dr. Pack and Captain Dennis Rogers aboard their Northern Song on a Focus on Whales Trip and assist in the data collection effort, click here.