Sitka Photographer Puts Whales in the Forefront

    Sitka photographer Tim Shobe would like to be known as more than the guy who expertly photoshopped the picture of a kayaker paddling through the open mouth of a whale.
    But the manipulated image did have at least one good result – it captured the attention of a nonprofit organization which is now displaying Shobe’s real humpback whale images on billboards in Panama, a project to raise awareness of the need to protect and preserve whales around the world.
    Shobe said the sponsors of the exhibit “Ruta de Gigantes, Ballenas en la Cuidad (Journey of Giants: Whales in the City)” plan to put up similar displays on major city streets around Central and South America.
    Shobe is one of several photographers whose pictures appear in the billboard display of humpback whales from around the world. The display will be up for two months at Panama Canal’s Miraflores Locks Visitors Center.
    Shobe said he researched the exhibit’s sponsor, the Panama-based Albatros Media Foundation, and its educational mission before loaning his images for the project.
    “I realized it was a reality when I saw the (images) on the billboards,” he said, referring to the e-mailed pictures he received showing the billboards on a busy Panama street.
    “I’m proud of the fact that it happened and got that sort of exposure,” Shobe said. “Little old Sitka does get a few tidbits (of publicity) – and it comes back to us somewhere.”
    The whale photos are ones Shobe took around Sitka over the past few years. He submitted a selection of them to the Albatros Media Foundation, and the company chose 12.
    Originally from Spokane, Wash., Shobe came to Sitka in 2003 to work on a six-month remodel job on a lodge on one of the Apple Islands. He is caretaker at the lodge during the winter, and works there during the busy summer months.
     He always takes his camera with him on his numerous trips to and from town.
    “There are opportunities that present themselves when you don’t have your camera with you, and you miss them,” he said.
    Shobe shoots with a Canon 5D Mark III camera with professional-grade lenses, including zoom lenses that make it appear he is closer to the whales than he actually is.
    “I can get the shot that would be considered too close to the whales,” he said. Shobe said he respects and follows the laws related to the required distances from whales for their own safety. He said he believes that Albatros had the same idea in mind, since the images the organization selected for the exhibit captured the “peacefulness” of the whales.
    “There’s not a lot of drama in them,” he said.
    Some of the pictures are from the 600 or so that he took from his skiff in Nakwasina Sound in March 2010, when he took the photo he later combined with another picture to make the digital image of a kayak going through the open mouth of a whale.
    “I was having a hard day,” he recalled. He had his camera along, but “I had no expectation of seeing anything.” It turned out to be a day with the best conditions for photographing whales.
    “That day has not been replicated since,” he said.
    He created the picture of the fake whale-kayak encounter as a joke and emailed it to a friend. It spread from there – Shobe said a Google search showed it had been used on some 100,000 websites, including advertisements for businesses, all without his permission.
    So when he received the call from Albatros Media Foundation asking about his whale pictures, he was a little wary that they would want that image. But they were only interested in his real humpback whale pictures.
    “They said, ‘We’ve seen your other stuff, so we’re interested,’” Shobe said.
    Shobe, who also paints in oils, is just starting to build his photography business through his website at

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At a Glance

(updated 11-23-22)

By Sentinel Staff

The state Department of Health and Social Services has posted the following update on the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Alaska as of 12:15 pm Tuesday, November 22.

New cases as of Tuesday: 434

Total cases (cumulative) statewide – 286,163

Total (cumulative) deaths – 1,399

Total (cumulative) hospitalizations – 4,195

Case Rate per 100,000 – 59.54

To visit the Alaska DHSS Corona Response dashboard website click here.

COVID in Sitka

The Sitka community level is now "Low.'' Case statistics are as of Tuesday.

Case Rate/100,000 – 105.6

Cases in last 7 days – 9

Cumulative Sitka cases – 3,167

Hospitalizations (to date) – 31

Deceased (cumulative) – 10

The local case data are from Alaska DHSS.






November 2002

The Assembly rejected a community group’s request for a special election to put a school auditorium bond issue before the voters. Instead, the Assembly said supporters should use the initiative petition process to call an election. ... Speaking for the auditorium group, Kristy Totten said a 1,000-seat facility would meet a long-standing need of the community.



November 1972

Charter members of the Baranof Chapter of Eastern Star were honored at a recent meeting. They included Hopewell and Clarence Rands, Ernestine C. Veatch; Ruth A. Sylte, Lu Wortman, Elsa Salskov and Catherine Shennett. The chapter was chartered 18 years ago.