Whale Watching in Southeast Alaska

Whale Watching in Southeast Alaska

An Alaskan cruise is not complete without a whale watching adventure!  Working on the cruise ships in Alaska was one of the most rewarding times of my life, and that definitely included whale watching. Since I was privileged to narrate and speak for nearly 200 Alaskan cruises with Princess Cruise Lines, I was also able to experience at least 50 whale watching excursions.  In addition, I spotted hundreds more whales from the cruise ship bridge for enthusiastic cruise ship passengers.

Where is the best place for Whale watching?

If you are in SE Alaska, Juneau is the place.  Humpback whales come to Alaska to feed, and they feed in the icy waters of Stephens Passage 24 hours a day.  You can also do some amazing whale watching in the Kenai Peninsula in South Central Alaska or near Hubbard Glacier. In fact, though, you may see them randomly anywhere in Alaskan waters.

Why do whales come specifically to Stephens Passage?

Alaska’s humpback whales winter in Hawaii where they breed and give birth, but they DO NOT eat.  Each spring they migrate to Alaska and they are HUNGRY as they arrive.  Consequently, in Alaska they eat constantly–22-23 hours per day!

When the young are born in Hawaii, they have absolutely NO blubber and the mothers weight is also depleted.  Therefore, the mother whale must eat enough to feed her baby and replenish here own blubber.  Humpback whale blubber is 55% fat (the consistency of toothpaste or yogurt) and the babies gain 3-5 pounds per hour.

Humpback whales feed on krill and herring.  These tiny fish migrate to narrow waters, consequently, they are in this passage in abundance!  Like humans, whales are intelligent so they go where the “getting is easiest.”  Why feed in open ocean when all the food you can eat is one relatively small area?   Continue reading Whale Watching in Southeast Alaska