Monday, September 12, 2011

Alaska: Juneau Means Whate Watching

On arrival Juneau, Alaska appeared to be a rather placid even sleepy little town.

We were surprised to learn that you can only reach it by boat or plane unless you are up to hiking or mushing in. There are no roads connecting it to the rest of mainland North America, which makes it a rather singular state capital.  Hawaii doesn't count as it is really an island.

Juneau's downtown offered plenty of shopping opportunities for tourists like most of Alaska's towns and a tram trip up a mountain that overlooks the harbor.

In the afternoon we visited a fine native culture museum, but our morning excursion by small boat to watch humpback whales feeding was the main event of our visit.  On the way to the small boat dock we were able to get a nice view of the famous Mendenhall Glacer.  Unfortunately our schedule did not permit a trip up there.

The boat used for whale watching was a bit smaller than our cruise ship.

Our captain seemed to have a quick hand on the controls and soon

we were speeding out toward the viewing areas

There were several other boats gathered  in the area when we arrived.

Our topside guide first gave us some facts about bubble net feeding, which several pods were engaged in when we arrived.
Whales swim in circles creating bubbles and foam that attracts fish

The gulls can see this and gather to feed as well

The whales then lunge to the surface with their mouths open to scoop up the fish.

The pinkish color is the insde of their upper palate
This moster just missed getting a gull

Sometimes they will also slap their fins on the water to help the process

When they dive or sound they flip their tails up at the last second before disappearing

Sea Lions were also on view relaxing on a harbor buoy

Here a huge Humpback breaks the surface before diving

When the tail flips you sometimes will get a fanciful waterfall effect

Whales can be specifically identifed and tracked over the years from the singlular patterns on their flukes. 
For lots more whale pictures don't forget to visit my Flickr account.

Near Orca Point Lodge we also saw a bald eagle roosting in a tree

We prepared to leave Juneau that evening just as the sun was setting over the harbor.  Shortly we were steaming down Lynn Canal as a foggy haze enveloped the various islands and headlands.

 Jan and I were literally alone on the stern of the Zaandam and it was around 10:30 PM

Then in a fitting end to the day a solitary humpback surfaced,  flipped his fluke upward, and dove beneath the sunset tinted waters.   Every time you think it couldn't get better, Alaska proves that it can.

Ketchikan is our last port of call tomorow morning.  I hope you will check it out with us.

No comments: