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