Helis & Humpbacks

This morning I had my first helicopter ride ever! Here I am just before leaving Scarlett, wondering what I'm about to experience. It's been cold up here. You can see how we're dressed for winter in July. Thank you Taiga.

Dave gave me the safety orientation and got me all suited up. The life vest is surprising heavy as it's packed with equipment like flares and even a personal EPIRB. The Coast Guard takes safety seriously.

Cruising over the ocean at 115 knots, it felt like we were floating ... just a bubble in a slow wind ... deep evergreens, black bogs, miles of blue waves passing beneath us, and the odd spectacularly deserted sand beach. 

Still, it only took about thirty minutes to fly the 6o or so miles up the coast to Addenbroke Island.

One of the most spectacular things about Addenbroke is that it's prime humpback territory. According to the keeper here, a small group of whales cruise around the island all day long. We were lucky enough to spot this guy about 100 metres from where we were standing at the boat launch. Humpbacks are baleen whales--pleats allow their throat to distend like a balloon so they can gulp masses of krill, herring, and crustaceans. When the pleats contract, the whale uses his tongue to push the water out through the baleen, and anything trapped is then swallowed whole. Humpbacks feed here all summer long and migrate to Hawaii or Mexico for the winter--not a bad life, I'd say. 

You can just see the tail flukes as this humpback dives down. Apparently, they are quite acrobatic. I'll be keeping my eyes peeled and my camera ready.


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