Going to Alaska? Watch for Whales

| July 15, 2013


Map from the Park Service on the location of whales

It's a good year for whale sightings in Alaska as they congregate in Glacier Bay.

I believe my obsession with whales started because I had been denied their company for so many years of cruising. It seemed like I always just missed them. "Did you see the whales this morning?" I would hear people say, and I never had. I felt as if the sentient aquatic mammals had mutually agreed to avoid me during one of their annual whale summit meetings. So I cruised for years before I was lucky enough to see my first whale in the wild, and once I had my first taste, or smell is probably more accurate, I was so fascinated I couldn't get enough.

If you happen to have a pending Alaska cruise still coming this summer, consider yourself one of the lucky ones. It's being called a very good year for potential whale sightings, especially if your cruise is going to Glacier Bay. There are currently so many humpback whales congregating in the entrance to Glacier Bay that as of July 2nd all cruise ships have been ordered to slow down to no more than 10-knots per hour. This is according to the National Parks Traveler Magazine.

The whales are concentrated along the entrance to the bay, which is located along Icy Strait. The speed restrictions are for the first 30 miles of Glacier Bay which itself covers 1375 square miles (about 100 miles deep depending on which boundaries you accept). The National Park Service limits the number of vessels that can operate in the bay on any given day to two cruise ships, three tour boats, six charter vessels, and 25 private vessels.

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