You have booked you trip after hours of research and you still don’t know what to expect from your first whale watch! The photos on the website look great, the boat looks comfortable and you’re excited to go whale watching! Now what? Here are 6 things you can expect from your whale watch:
- If you have done your research and booked with a reputable captain (I’ve heard stories of shady operators out there) you WILL see whales. The species of whales you are likely to encounter are the humpback whales. They spend their summers in the nutrient dense waters around Southeast Alaska feeding, before migrating down to Hawaii for the breeding season and to give birth. When you do spot a whale, legally your captain has to keep at least 100 yards away from it. So don’t expect a trip where you can lean over and pet a humpback!
- Since your boat won’t be “on top of the whale” (unless the whale decides to swim close up) you should bring binoculars (I provide high quality binoculars to my passengers but not all boats do). When it comes to photos you need to have realistic expectations of your own ability and the quality of the camera you are using. If you use your cell phone camera (I use mine all the time), naturally the quality will not be the same as if you are using a huge digital SLR with a big lens. But it doesn’t matter, any photo you get of a marine mammal is special and unique. Treasure it and enjoy your time out with the whales! The best photos are always the ones you capture in your mind.
- Juneau is located in a temperate rainforest, which means it’s likely to rain at some point during your whale watch. DON’T be disappointed if it’s raining and misty, but DO bring your rain gear! At the very least bring a rain jacket but I would suggest rain pants too. Luckily the humpback whales don’t care if it’s raining or sunny. It’s always wet and cold where they are!
- Keep and eye out for other wildlife! You’re looking for humpback whales but there are many other marine mammals and birds you’re likely to see along the way. We have harbor seals, Dall’s porpoises, Steller Sea Lions, Killer whales, Sea Otters, Bald Eagles and more ducks and sea birds than you can shake a stick at!
- The ocean is not a zoo! The whales and other animals we will see are free swimming sentient beings. They are out there doing what they do and it’s a privilege to observe them living their best lives. So please don’t expect them to perform tricks and stunts on demand. I haven’t figured out a way to train them yet!
- Don’t forget to put your camera down, take a big deep breath of the fresh Alaskan air, and think about where you are. You’ve made it to Alaska. You’re on a boat surrounded by humpback whales, glaciers, mountains and a temperate rainforest. Take a moment to enjoy it all. These memories and emotions will last the rest of your life!
I am currently taking bookings for summer 2023. If you have any questions feel free to call me at 907-209-8227. I live in Juneau all year round and it’s fun to share information about my tour and community with all of you! And I’ll be happy to tell you what to expect from your first whale watch.