Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Whale Of A Time

Well peeps, we’re almost at the end of our land/sea adventure to the amazing State of Alaska.

This post is about our visit to the capital city of Alaska; Juneau. For those that may not know, Juneau is named after a miner and prospector from Canada who was born in the Quebec town of Saint-Paul-l'Ermite.
Whilst in Juneau we visited the Mendenhall Glacier and did some much anticipated Whale watching. I hope you enjoy some of Rick’s amazing photos of what I think can be considered the highlight of our adventure.

Our travel companions Wendy and Terry took a similar excursion, albeit theirs was a more intimate tour with less people and included the expertise of an on board professional photographer. Between the two of them they took some amazing photos and they have been kind enough to share one or two here on our blog.

Prior to boarding our boat we visited Alaska’s most "accessible" glacier on the shores of Mendenhall Lake.

There is a lot to be said about having the opportunity to leave footprints on soil that was under ice just decade ago.


Glaciers obviously contribute vast volumes of freshwater to land and marine environments. Southeast Alaska’s glaciers alone discharge enough water to fill 40 million Olympic sized swimming pools. They grind mountains into fine particles, as you’ve already seen in our previous photos/posts. This melt water provides a variety of nutrients including nitrogen, phosphorus and unique ancient organic carbon, and contributes to the productivity of marine food chain. Swimming at the top of this food chain are the whales, so it makes complete sense why the Juneau area is frequented by these amazing creatures.

 After visiting the Mendenhall Glacier we boarded our whale watching catamaran stopping briefly at the beautiful Orca Point Lodge on Colt Island where we enjoyed a feast that included grilled wild Alaska salmon, chicken, vegetable medley, rice pilaf, cole slaw, fresh-hot rolls and desserts.  The lodge offers peaceful seclusion with modern comforts in a remote wilderness setting. 

Now for what we’ve all been waiting for; an afternoon with the humpback whale.
Humpbacks are enormous mammals, known for their majestic whale songs and aerial acrobatic abilities such as the ability to continuously breach the water in spite of their large bodies.
And breach they did….

A sea lion enjoying the last warm rays of summer

When it comes to physical size an adult humpback whale can grow to an average length of 40-60 ft. long and weigh as much as 44 tons.

Note: One of the largest ever recorded humpback whales measured in at 89 ft. long.

Ooh lucky photo op, breaching humpback and the Mendenhall Glacier in the background



What is a whale fluke?


Since you asked…the easiest way to explain it is when a large whale prepares for a deep dive, it arches its back, moving the central part of its body above water to get a better downward angle. With his/her head in position, the whale moves downward with the last thing you see before disappearing into the depths is its fluke sticking straight up above the water.
Fluking gives researchers a good look at the tail markings, which can be distinct enough to identify individual whales. Some whales apparently don't fluke at all.
The below photo was taken by our travel companion Wendy.


We’ll leave you with a little video Rick put together so you can get a little glimpse of what we experienced on our afternoon of whale watching. If you’ve never experienced it before, please put it on your bucket list!
Tomorrow we are in Ketchikan our last port of call on this adventure. See you there!
Thanks for stopping by.
Rick and Sandra :)