Does anyone know if there is an opportunity to take a good "whale watching" tour from Kethikan or Sitka? So many other things to do in Juneau that I don't know if I can fit in a 3 1/2 hr. whale watching tour and the Heli/Glacier tour and still have time to hike around the Mendenhall Glacier or take the Mt. Roberts tram or................... ideas? I have 8 hrs.
As a total Cetacean Freak, I'll forego just about anything to see whales and porpoises in action. We skipped Mendenhall Glacier last year. Watching the glacier calving in Glacier Bay was far more spectacular...and that was from our ship. After a spectacular whale watching tour, we did the Mt. Roberts Tram and the tour of the city.
So why whale watching? Juneau is probably the best place for a US citizen to see humpback whales doing their bubble wall feeding...a totally unique experience. There are so many behaviors that are unique to the summer feeding cycle. There are lots of claciers. But how often do you get the chance to see these gentle giants of the see in action?
Actually Mendenhall Glacier is not one of the scenic ones. Unless you are willing to invest considerable time out on the front deck of your ship-(I always am greatly rewarded) Juneau is your best option. (Humpbacks migrate to Sitka starting late Sept). I would also encourage you to extend your trip and get to either Friday harbor Wa or Victoria BC, for excellent orca watching.
>> So why whale watching? Juneau is probably the best place for
> a US citizen to see humpback whales doing their bubble wall
> feeding...a totally unique experience. There are so many
> behaviors that are unique to the summer feeding cycle. There
> are lots of claciers. But how often do you get the chance to
> see these gentle giants of the see in action?
> One man's opinion...go for the whale watching!
Have to disagree that this is the best area- having whale watched for years both coasts, I have to say Ma. is the best for humpbacks. Especially in 2-3 more years when the sand eels cycle back, Stellwagon Bank is tops. I am fortunate to have a confirmed 3 day research trip end of June out of Gloucester. If you do go out of Juneau- go with an independent - I have gone with both Orca Enterprises and Dolphin. Also SKIIP MT. Roberts tram if needed. The other options are far better.
Now why did I know you were going to disagree with me :>) But what the heck...differences of opinion are what make the world go 'round and life interesting on these boards.
East or west coast whale watching???
Off New England, you are likely to see a greater variety of whales...and you can watch new mothers raise their young. IMHO, Hawaii during the winter is a better place for this because of the greater concentration of humpbacks.
As for Alaska, the humpback group feeding behaviors that you can see off Juneau are the most interesting. It's not that often that you get to see such animals perform such intricate maneuvers.
One last thing...in September, humpbacks are getting ready to migrate from the Sitka area...not to it.
If you'd like more info on Pacific humpback whale behavior, here's a site maintained by Simon Frasier University out of Vancouver. Not only does this describe what you can expect to see, it gives you good background on what goes on below the surface.
If you get hooked on whales...as I am...you might want to consider a Mexican Riviera cruise where you can get up close and personal with gray whales off Baja California. And I mean really up close. You can pet them as they come up and nuzzle your boat. Since humbacks are protected, boats are not allowed to get that close.
Back to Alaska...I don't know where you're from, but I can assure you that they have nothing like Mt. Roberts here in Texas. We found the scenery from the top of the tram to be spectacular. You'll find pictures in our photo gallery set...Alaska, May 2001.
One of the best things about Alaska is that it's so hard to make a mistake. You can't help but have a fantabulous trip.
> One last thing...in September, humpbacks are getting ready to
> migrate from the Sitka area...not to it.
NO you are NOT correct. Humpbacks are migrating toward the open oceans and toward Sitka. Why would they have their major whale fest in November then? I have gone to Sitka end of September- whales are in great numbers, but puffins are gone.
"NO you are NOT correct. Humpbacks are migrating toward the open oceans and toward Sitka. Why would they have their major whale fest in November then? I have gone to Sitka end of September- whales are in great numbers, but puffins are gone."
Last time I looked at the map, Sitka was not in the "open ocean." The Whalefest, now in its 5th year, celebrates the whales leaving Southeast Alaska for Hawaii, not migrating to it. There are a number of web sites and books that describe this event in some detail. I'll be happy to provide the references if you want.
For clarification- your previous post stated - humpbacks were leaving Sitka in Sept. As I posted this is not true. You don't like my "migrating reference". So - the whales start leaving the Juneau area in Sept. and arrive around end of September in greater numbers in Sitka (on their way back to Hawaii). They leave the Sitka area in November. Of course they don't check the calendar? How's that??? Perhaps you could post info on your trips for further reference? I generally take 5-6 whale watches /year. (3 out of Gloucester)
Okay you two, knock it off. You have both given us all so many wonderful tips on how to make our once in a lifetime trips to Alaska unique to our personalities as well as extremely memorable. Thank you both. I wouldn't know what to do without you! Terri