Author Archives: Justin Cale

Excitement in an Instant: The Dall’s Porpoise

A Dall's Porpoise surfacing.

A Dall’s Porpoise emerges from the depths to swim alongside the ship.


The Dall’s Porpoise is a master of surprise. One moment, you’re at the head of a ship, motoring through the dark waters of one of Alaska’s deep underwater canyons, and then in an instant these magnificent creatures appear.

While observing some rather distant Humpback Whales aboard the Northern Song, a small pod of these porpoises decided that we were interesting enough to travel with for a few minutes, and put on a rather playful show for our group.



My first observation was that they look quite like Killer Whales in many ways, though much smaller, and have since read that they are sometimes confused with young Killer Whales. The Dall’s Porpoise is a meaty, muscular porpoise with a small head. They rival their Killer Whale cousins in speed, with the ability to swim up to 55 kilometers per hour. As such, they were easily able to match the speed of the Northern Song, and glided through the waters on the bow of the ship.

Swimming upside down, sideways, and just about any other way one might think of, I found these porpoises quite impressive. They rarely jump out of the water. Instead they partially breach to get air, creating a “rooster tail” in their wake. Photographing these animals was difficult at first, but after a minute or so I was able to find a bit of a rhythm.


Dall's Porpoise surfacing for air.

A Dall’s Porpoise surfacing to get air while swimming alongside the ship.


In the photograph above, I was able to capture it during one of its partial breaches, while it was above the plane of the water but still submerged. The Canon 6D Mark ii, that was so graciously lent to me to test out from Allen’s Camera, worked phenomenally well. It was a dark, overcast day, and the low light capabilities with a high shutter speed worked very well!

My short experience with the Dall’s Porpoise was definitely one to remember. It tested my skills as a photographer, left me in awe of its beauty, and reminded me of the importance of these kinds of short encounters we sometimes have throughout life. It does not always take a large amount of time to have a large impact on things. Sometimes, it’s the fleeting moments that mean the most.



As always, I hope this latest blog finds you all well. As the holiday season approaches, Wildside Nature Tours and I wish you the happiest of holidays. We’re gearing up for a wonderful new year, our 25th year! We look forward to bringing you some exciting new things, and more of the photographs and stories you already enjoy. Have a great week everyone!

Cooperative Feeding Nets Success for Humpback Whales

  The cold, dark waters of Southeast Alaska are mysterious and magical. While motoring through the massive fjords and smaller channels, one might think that these waters were barren and empty. However, they are teeming with life, from the smallest organisms to the massive beasts that lurk in the depths. At one moment the waterContinue Reading

People Make the Difference…

  As you all know, I am not long home from an amazing trip to Alaska. The things that I saw and experienced there will never be forgotten. They are, like so many other things, massive building blocks that continue to construct the foundation of who I am and what I do. Completely changing yourContinue Reading

The Marvelous Marbled Godwit: A Labor Day Adventure

    WAKE UP! I nearly flew off of my couch, startled by the loud pinging from the alarm on my phone. It was 3:30 in the morning, and though groggy, I was excited for the day that lay ahead. My Father and I quickly got ready and on the road, venturing to the ConneautContinue Reading

Stopping Time: The Story of a Parula and a Cherry Tree

  “Experiences are much more valuable than things. Things break. We get tired of playing with them. Experiences though, are a part of us forever. Long after returning home from an adventure, we continue to share stories and photos of our travels with friends and family, while looking forward to the next great experience!” –Continue Reading

My Morning Routine: Turning A Simple Concept Toward Positive Action

  It is no secret to anyone that knows me, that I do a lot of talking. I would be willing to bet that first sentence will garner a chuckle from many of you, simply because of how honest a statement it is. You poor folks! Heh. I woke up this morning with the strongContinue Reading

Big Picture Thinking: Our Stories

  Hello everyone! I’m so grateful for another week, and another chance to write for you all! I’ve been mulling over memories all week, and reliving some of the best, formative experiences of my life with birds and wildlife. I thought it would be great to explore some of those thoughts, one of those experiencesContinue Reading


  As our lives collectively get busier and busier, in world full of white noise and distraction, forethought on a large scale seems almost impossible for many people. With everything that requires our attention on a daily basis, where do we find time to consider the “big picture”? This is a question that I wrestleContinue Reading


  As I sit at my desk this morning reading the latest news in wildlife and conservation, my mind is swirling, twisting, and turning as strongly as the incredible storm that is passing through outside. So many stories to tell. Memories of a youth spent mostly outdoors, unwittingly soaking in the wonders of nature. ItContinue Reading


  It’s Monday morning. You’re sitting at your desk, daydreaming about the previous weekends adventures. Relishing the thought of the birds you saw and the places you visited. Perhaps a smile comes to your lips as you experience the joy and excitement of that moment. Perhaps a warm feeling runs through you from head toContinue Reading