Weekly Whale Feature: 'Auke'

Posted: Friday, July 02, 2010

This whale is named since it's the only whale I'm aware of that ventures into Auke Bay Harbor to feed. She brought her calf into the Auke Bay Harbor with her in 2007. Since, the calf has been named "Tee" after Tee Harbor.

Courtesy Of Jay Beedle
Courtesy Of Jay Beedle

Name: Auke / NOAA No. SEAK 1160

Gender: Female

When to look: Auke has been seen in 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010 from March through September.

Where: It is possible to see Auke anywhere in the Juneau area, but you never know with her. She has made several feeding trips inside the Auke Bay Harbor.

Markings: Auke has big black and white tail flukes with some scratch marks. Her tail is mainly black in the lower part and white near the upper part of the flukes. The marks that will help identify Auke are two small black scratches - one up and one down - right next to each other near the top of her left fluke. There is another, longer black scratch on her right fluke located near the middle outer side. The notch between her flukes is irregularly shaped, with part of the top right side missing.

Behavior: Unlike many of the regular whales in the Juneau area, Auke's tail usually stays low to the water before a deep dive, making her very hard to identify. Her dive times are usually from 4 to 10 minutes long. But, hang on! This whale is capable of some fantastic shows of breaching, chin slapping, pectoral fin slapping and lunge feeding. She often does this with her calf. She definitely provides, in my opinion, the best shows of all the female whales in the Juneau area. One of the best pictures I have ever taken was of Auke and one of her calves, Bay, breaching together just outside of Halibut Cove on Shelter Island in 2007 on July 18.

Notes: Auke's calf, we named Bay in 2007, has a lot of white on its flukes. In 2009 Auke had another calf we named Tee and its flukes are mainly black. Markings on Bay show evidence of a failed killer whale attack, with the upper right side of its right fluke showing scrapes from teeth. It has similar marks on the right pectoral fin.

• The "Weekly Whale Feature" is compiled by Jay Beedle, a longtime Juneau resident who makes his home on Shelter Island. He is a photographer and co-owns Harv and Marv's Outback Alaska which offers whale watching tours during summer months. For more information about his photography contact Gretchen Pence at gretchenpence@islandimagesalaska.com or at 789-0089.

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