Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Day 31 Summer Vacation 2009

I can now officially say that we are in Alaska, even though we have been in Alaskan waters for several days, we will oficially have our boots on the ground when we step off the ship in Juneau and so I can add another State to our States Visited Map.

This morning at 7:00 am the Westerdam docked in Juneau Alaska. Karen and I had breakfast then at 9:30 am we disembarked the ship and boarded our tour bus to the Mendenhall Glacier. Today was not nearly as hazy but there is still a hint of smoke in the air from those large forest fires further North.

The Glacier is about a 15 minute drive from Juneau AK.

4413a Mendenhall Glacier AK4416 Mendenhall Glacier AK4417 Mendenhall Glacier AK

4429 Mendenhall Glacier AK4440 Mendenhall Glacier AK4438 Mendenhall Glacier AK

After spending an hour at the glacier, we then drove to the pier where we boarded a boat to go whale watching. We were not 15 minutes from the dock before we saw our first whales. Orca Whales also known as Killer Whales. These are the black ones with the white patch just behind their dorsal fin and another white patch on their underside.

4469 Whale Watching Juneau AK4471 Whale Watching Juneau AK 4473 Whale Watching Juneau AK

Then we saw our first Humpback Whale. These whales are as big as a greyhound bus, maybe bigger. At first we saw a couple of them, but by the end of our tour we were seeing about 12 of them.

4474 Whale Watching Juneau AK4481 Whale Watching Juneau AK4482 Whale Watching Juneau AK

4487 Whale Watching Juneau AK4493 Whale Watching Juneau AK4512 Whale Watching Juneau AK

Suddenly alongside the boat, a sea lion appeared, I think he was trying to hide from the Orca Whales in the area and using our boat as a shield.

4516 Whale Watching Juneau AK

This pod of humpback whales were doing something that is rarely seen, in fact the whale expert onboard our boat said that he has been doing these whale watching excursions daily for 6 years and has only seen this happen 7 times. What we got to witness is what is known as Bubble Net Feeding. If I remember what the guide told us correctly, I believe he said that there are approximately 1000 pods of humpback whales in the world, but only about 12 pods have learnt this technique of Bubble Net Feeding. The pod of whales work together as a team and they dive deep in unison and then they circle around a school of herring and as they circle the herring the whales start blowing bubbles underwater through their blow hole. They circle tighter and tighter causing the herring to swim in a tighter and tighter school until there is a lot of herring trapped within the confines of the bubble net, then in unison all the humpback whales rise to the surface out of the water with their mouths wide open taking in as many herring as they can into their wide open mouths.

4522 Whale Watching Juneau AK4526 Whale Watching Juneau AK4528 Whale Watching Juneau AK

4544 Whale Watching Juneau AK4547 Whale Watching Juneau AK

I have some great video of the whales bubble net feeding, however you are going to have to wait until I get back to the mainland before I can upload the videos to my Flickr Site. For an internet connection on the ship it costs .75 cents per minute so you don’t spend a lot of time online, and certainly you do not upload 100’s of photos and videos each day to Flickr. In the days following our arrival back in Seattle WA, I will have free wi-fi and I will upload all the photos and videos at that time.

After our whale watching tour we came back to our ship and we rode the Mount Roberts Tramway up to the top of the mountain that overlooks Juneau AK. The view from above looking down on the ship was spectacular. There were 5 cruise ships visiting Juneau today.

4558 View from Mount Roberts Tramway Juneau AK4559 View from Mount Roberts Tramway Juneau AK4560 View from Mount Roberts Tramway Juneau AK

At 7pm we untied from the pier and left Juneau AK heading for Sitka AK. We will arrive in Sitka around 8 am. Here are some parting shots as we leave Juneau.

4595 Aboard MS Westerdam leaving Juneau AK4596 Aboard MS Westerdam leaving Juneau AK4646 Aboard MS Westerdam leaving Juneau AK

4648 Aboard MS Westerdam leaving Juneau AK4649 Aboard MS Westerdam leaving Juneau AK4650 Aboard MS Westerdam leaving Juneau AK

To see all of the photos that I took today you can see them all on my FLICKR site.

No comments:

Post a Comment