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PLEASE…BEST VIEWED LARGE FOR THE BEST DETAIL
Okay, this is a weird view of a whale compared to the breaches and tail views we all enjoy seeing. Yet, since it IS so unusual I thought I’d share this with you.
This is Stripe, a very friendly humpback whale I encountered in late Autumn in a remote fjord in SE Alaska. Stripe repeatedly spyhopped next to our boat—-spyhopping means putting their large heads up above the surface of the water for a look.
Often Stripe would linger just below the surface for a bit before spyhopping, no doubt contemplating the strange beings waving and calling to him from above.
What is unusual about this photo is that it gives a very good look at a humpback whale’s rostrum (snout) and big, lumpy tubercles (bumps). When viewed from afar, these whale bumps do not appear all that big but when seen from mere feet away, they are indeed quite large. One can even see individual hairs extending from the tubercles as well as whale lice, the brownish little creatures on Stripe’s rostrum. A crop of barnacles is growing on Stripe’s rostrum.
Incidentally, the smaller portion of Stripe’s rostrum is called the upper pre-jawbone (on the left side of the photograph) and the more massive mandible with the knobby tubercles and barnacles is the lower jaw (the right side of the photograph). It’s difficult to get one’s bearings but the top of Stripe’s head is on the left side of the photo. Here’s a link to another photo of Stripe that may help you envision what this whale looks like.
SE Alaska, USA
October 31, 2009
Canon 40D, Tamron 28-75mm lens, shutter 1/120, f/4.5, ISO 400