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Archive 2013 · Alaska- Orca females
  
 
Charlie Shugart
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p.1 #1 · Alaska- Orca females


Well- I'm assuming they are . I don't know the characteristic shape of immature male dorsal fins.
Nor whether moms have an equal number of male and female babies.
Anyhow- we spotted this pod of 6-10 orcas and paralleled them at a suitable distance- matching their speed.
Because all orcas in the area had experienced boats since they were born, they had no fear of them. Often (as in this case) they would come close to us for awhile before going back to whatever direction they had been heading.
Intelligent and curious- and absolute apex predators- orcas probably don't spend much time worrying .

I just noticed: there is a fourth orca in this pic. Below the first fin is the nose of a small baby and the beginning of a nostril "blow" behind it. Small babies stay extremely close to their moms until they develop some size and confidence. And notice the water's surface tension as the baby's nose comes up. Pure luck on my part, but man, I'm happy I was lucky .



Charlie Shugart 2013

Alaska- Orca Pod



Edited on Apr 04, 2013 at 11:18 PM · View previous versions



Apr 04, 2013 at 10:02 PM
CDaescher
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p.1 #2 · Alaska- Orca females


Charlie, what a great image and good info.
These fins are well composed and very intriguing.
Chris



Apr 04, 2013 at 10:16 PM
surfnron
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p.1 #3 · Alaska- Orca females


A very nice shot Charlie. The baby blowing bubbles makes the shot for me ~ Ron


Apr 04, 2013 at 11:37 PM
birdied
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p.1 #4 · Alaska- Orca females


Wonderful shot Charlie !!

Birdie



Apr 05, 2013 at 12:34 AM
KCollett
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p.1 #5 · Alaska- Orca females


A neat experience it must have been Charlie. Nice capture. Bet it looks super on the slide.


Apr 05, 2013 at 12:51 AM
WesN
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p.1 #6 · Alaska- Orca females


Charlie - super shot.

Wes N.



Apr 05, 2013 at 01:42 AM
morris
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p.1 #7 · Alaska- Orca females


You captured a wonderful moment Charlie. Just getting decent photos of wales from a boat is tricky.

Morris



Apr 05, 2013 at 01:47 AM
sbeme
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p.1 #8 · Alaska- Orca females


well-timed capture of a pod at work or play

Scott



Apr 05, 2013 at 01:49 AM
LandPirate
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p.1 #9 · Alaska- Orca females


I like it. Great image.


Apr 05, 2013 at 01:57 AM
 

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Charlie Shugart
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p.1 #10 · Alaska- Orca females


Thanks Chris, Ron, Birdie, Ken, Wes, Morris, Scott and Mr Pirate.
The boat was 100 feet long and moving at 10-15 mph. The motion I had to deal with was the orcas themselves. When they're traveling- as this pod was- they often come up to breathe several at a time, so group shots like this are possible. And the long lens compressed them.
The relative positions of the individuals are mostly a matter of guessing (at least they are for me).
But even when I wasn't shooting, watching these magnificent animals is totally thrilling.
Normally my slides look better than the scans. Not here, though. The dark skin was in shadow and there was backlight. Luckily, although my processing skills are still pretty basic, the work I did improved the image.
Charlie



Apr 05, 2013 at 02:34 AM
cohenfive
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p.1 #11 · Alaska- Orca females


Really is a great shot, must have been pretty amazing to see them in the wild...


Apr 05, 2013 at 04:55 AM
alrac
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p.1 #12 · Alaska- Orca females





Apr 05, 2013 at 05:39 AM
kmunroe
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p.1 #13 · Alaska- Orca females


very nice Charlie


Apr 05, 2013 at 08:53 AM
Charlie Shugart
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p.1 #14 · Alaska- Orca females


Thanks Cohenfive, alrac and kmunroe (some amazing first names here ).
Yes, seeing and watching orcas from up close was always a highlight when the animals cooperated- which happened fairly often.
When feeding, they ignored us. And also when they were doing some "serious" traveling and looking (really, it's listening ) for lunch.
Charlie



Apr 05, 2013 at 04:15 PM
David Leask
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p.1 #15 · Alaska- Orca females


Nice one Charlie, well done
David



Apr 05, 2013 at 06:54 PM
Frogfish
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p.1 #16 · Alaska- Orca females


Another lovely Orca shot Charlie - appreciate the information you have given too, very interesting reading.


Apr 06, 2013 at 12:34 AM
Thomas Sanders
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p.1 #17 · Alaska- Orca females


Must be hard to time the shot when they breach Charlie.......except for you
Water action adds

Tom



Apr 06, 2013 at 09:50 PM
Charlie Shugart
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p.1 #18 · Alaska- Orca females


Thanks David, Frog and Tom.
When orcas come up to breathe, it's easy to time it generally because they are usually traveling in straight lines and they breathe often. Plus the dorsal fins give some warning.
FYI- a breach is when the animal jumps almost completely out of the water. Pretty big deal for a 40-ton humpback whale. The timing for a breach is MUCH more difficult than catching the breathing, and I was- at best- mediocre at it. (Plus- I only saw one quick series of three orca breaches.
Same with the big whales when they breach AND when they come up to breathe; the whales stay under water between breaths much longer than orcas do, so anticipating it is tougher.
The basic problem is that a breach comes unannounced and within 360 degrees. First you have to spot the breach with just your eyes scanning the scene. Then find the animal through the lens and get the shot BEFORE it reaches the top of the jump (whales lose their shape when collapsing back into the water). All this plus get the focus... in about three seconds. And I was using manual focus or a slow auto-focusing lens.
Also, orcas breach less often (in my experience), and each jump is over very quickly.
It takes a highly-skilled wildlife photographer- who spends a lot of time in the right places- to get good orca or whale breaches. Alas- I am not that person .
Charlie



Apr 06, 2013 at 10:42 PM





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