Friday, August 27, 2010

Whale Watching in Juneau

Tuesday August 24th, Juneau AK. We arrived at the port in Juneau at 2:00 PM. It was great to be back in Alaska. It seemed like everyone on the ship wanted to get off right away so the lines to leave the ship were long. We started on the 7th deck and the line wound through the stair to the fourth deck where we left the ship.

We found our tour group at the end of the pier and started out in another adventure. Juneau was a mining town and it looked and felt industrial. The downtown area was very small, particularly for a state capital.

As we passed through the downtown area, we saw the government center, the federal building and the governor's house. There were tourist shops and the Red Dog Saloon.. not much else!

We boarded the St Aquilina, a jet powered catamaran designed for whale watching. There were two outside observation decks and we made good use of them when the boat was not underway. It was so cold that we huddled inside when the boat was moving.

Before we even left the harbor, we found a pod of killer whales. We were told that they are a transitory pod in search of food. There appeared to be a mother and two of her children. Killer whales are matriarchal and the young stay with their mother for life.

Once we hit open water where the humpback whales feed, we saw a number of whale spouts. These were usually followed by a humpback sighting and a dive. These massive animals are 40 feet long.

We even came upon a sleeping whale. We were told that one half of their brain sleeps at a time so that they can keep swimming while they sleep. The spouts became regular and a little slower than the whales we saw actively feeding.

There was a beautiful lighthouse that the locals claim is haunted. A ship called the Princess Sophia was caught on a gravel bar and failed to float off in time to save her 100+ passengers. They all died and their ghosts can be found at the dock of the lighthouse.

The local hangout is the buoy. The sea lions resting on the buoy are huge. If a six foot person was to stand next to them, the snout would be right at eye level! They are close to 11 feet tall when they stretch upward.

After the wildlife quest we headed to the Mendenhall glacier...

Link to our photos:
Alaska-Juneau-Whale Watch

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