Thursday, June 14, 2018

ALASKA CRUISE - MAY 14TH, 2018 - WHALE WATCHING AT ICY STRAIGHT POINT


Alaska Trip - May 2018 - Cruise
Monday, May 14th, 2018 
Whale Watching at Icy Straight Point.



Do they look cold?  It was a bit nippy that day.




I am writing this at 7.20 a.m. Last night we were warned not to go out on the balcony. I felt the motion even more as I tried to sleep, but the ship was really rocking last night.  It didn't make me feel uneasy.  It really is an odd sensation feeling yourself rolling in bed.  Odd but not unpleasant and I found it quite comforting. 


Gregg stepped out on the balcony and said it was a real nice day.  By that time the water was calm.  As I said, a little nippy but I am enjoying the briskness of it, and as long as I am bundled up I am fine.
We will get into port later today.  The captain left late yesterday from Sitka, to miss most of the storm we were heading to.  
An amazing day, we went on a whale watching boat at Icy Straight Point.  We saw Humpback Whales!
We walked quite a ways from the ship.... 
to get to a large building where several tours were offered. 

The photo below shows an old cannery. I read that the town of Hoonah is located on Chichagof Island, about 30 miles west of Juneau, along Icy Straight in the Inside Passage.  The Huna, a Tlingit tribe, have lived in the Icy Strait area for thousands of years.  In 1912 the Hoonah Packing Company built a large salmon cannery north of town.  The cannery operated on and off under different ownership until the early 1950s, and it sat shuttered for decades until the local Native corporation, Huna Totem Corp., purchased and rehabilitated the facility to create the private cruise port now known as Icy Straight Point.

There are several kinds of tours offered but we knew that we wanted to go whale watching.  We had about an hour to wait for our boat.  This picture is of it approaching the dock after a previous tour.  We board in half an hour.  
There was a crew of three that we saw, and the captain whose voice we heard over the loudspeaker.  
A man gave us an interesting talk about the humpbacks and a young lady spoke to us in her native tongue, and then in English.  She told us about life in this small community of 800 people. 

Whenever you saw the gulls circling or sitting on the water...

it was a sign that we would be seeing a whale, so the boat kept following the birds. 

Our first sight of the whales was thrilling.
We gave nephew our camera and he went up on the observation deck on the top of the boat.  We have him to thank for these great photos.
When their heads shot up in a circle, it was hard to stop your mouth from dropping open and squealing with glee.  Audible gasps were heard from all of us at some point or another.  One time they did this right next to the boat.  Everyone yelled, so exciting.
What I read at this website
"Alaska Humpback Whales are "baleen" whales.  Instead of teeth they have between 270-400 baleen plates, which hang from their top jaw.  They feed by taking large gulps of air (a gulp can be 1500 gallons of water).  Humpbacks use a hunting technique called "bubble netting".  They swim in a spiral beneath a school of fish or krill  (Krill is a small shrimp-like crustacean) blowing lots of bubbles.  This creates a "net" of bubbles that traps a giant mass of krill.  They then swim up through the center with their mouths wide open enjoying their favorite meal.  The baleen plates act as filters for the fish and krill.  
The nutrient-rich waters at Point Adolphus makes southeast Alaska an especially great place to view them feeding.  

We saw these whales showing their "bubble netting" techniques many times.  We also saw several whales gliding through the water.  
For such a huge animal they were very graceful as they slid under the surface. 

Our niece also gave us some great photos from her camera, and the following are those.












There were also stellar seals and sea lions, with their heads bobbing up and down in the water. 


We saw a pair of eagles high in a tree during our boat trip, and I also saw a very large chick moving around. I am assuming the parents were feeding it, but it was hard to see, even with binoculars the boat company put on most seats for our use.  I am not sure when I got this photo.  I took several.
(Added note: I misidentified this photo as it was taken by either Gregg's sister or her husband.  I had misplaced this one in the whale folder, but I came across it later in another one correctly identified as being theirs.)


It was time to make our way back to the ship, and a lady waiting at the end of the building for stragglers, offered us a ride in a trolley-like vehicle that held about a dozen people.  She dropped us off right next to the ship.

I have added a few maps where Hoonah and Alaska are located, and also a few interesting facts.

The map above gives you a good idea how big Alaska is compared to the other states, but it has the lowest populace density of all of them.  The name Alaska comes from the Aleut word Alaxsaq.  This means 'the mainland' or 'the object towards which the action of the sea is directed".  The land is also called Alyeska, which is another Aleut word that means 'the great land'.

In the map above the marker shows where Hoonah is located, and below a map showing the same but on a much larger scale.

Quite a day and one spending time with my family watching and enjoying those amazing whales was a huge highlight of our holiday together.






23 comments:

  1. Whales are fascinating to watch. I saw the beluga many times when I was in the Arctic. I flew over them several times for another perspective.

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    1. I would have loved to see the beluga Red. There was a place called Belluga Point which we visited a few times at the end of our holiday, but no sightings of them.

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  2. What a proveledge to watch these magnificent crwaatures. A wonerful post and trip

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    1. It certainly was Margaret, a true privilege and the greatest gift.

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  3. I never saw a whale close up, when we went on a whale watching trip the creatures had gone somewhere else. A couple did come very near our ship, though. I remember the captain's announcement and the flurry of bodies to get to the right side of the ship. Oh happy days

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    1. I have only ever seen whales in the distance before Valerie. We all moved from side to side on our boat too :)

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  4. wow, good job on your whale pics. fantastic. I like the whale watching boat, looks great. just reading about the rolling boat made me seasick.

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    1. Thank you Sandra and I am prone to sea sickness but this was such a gentle roll, it was like rocking this ‘baby’ in a crib, lol!

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    1. Wow indeed on those whales William, they were awesome!

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  6. wow, so thrilled you had such a great experience here. this was our favorite port.
    great pictures!!

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    1. Hey there Cuz, a clear favorite with us too. Thanks so much for steering us in the right direction :)))

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  7. AWESOME...great shots. I plan on sometime heading to Calif when they are passing through to see them. But...that is not this yr cause I am heading to Calif next month.

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    1. Thank you Pam, I will pass that on. Hope you get to see them sometime on your travels.

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  8. You share the greatness of this great land! Cruise ships tend to make up time by going fast at night while the passengers are sleeping. After living on our boat through wind and wake, I sometimes miss the sway and dance on the mooring ropes as I sleep in in my land bed! ;)

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    1. Thanks Cloudia, and I sometimes think what it would be likeliving as you did. I would miss it too.

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  9. WOW Denise, your nephew certainly captured some great whale shots as did your niece. What a wonderful experience you all had seeing this display. Everyone did look a bit chilled as well.

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    1. Thank you Dorothy, we got some great pictures thanks to them. Yes we were a bit chilled but our surprise and excitement literally gave us warmth.

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  10. Amazing whale viewing. Thanks for giving us a good visual on how large Alaska is!

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    1. You are very welcome Ellen, I am happy you enjoyed it.

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  11. Wow what fun seeing the whales and great photos. I saw them off Cape Town many years ago but in those days I neve had a camera by my side! Keep well Diane

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    1. Thank you Diane, it certainly was. Great memory of yours. Thank you for sharing.

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  12. UPDATE (6/16/18, 6 pm): I talked to Ginny about an hour ago and she asks that everyone say some extra prayers for her... She did come through surgery fine --- but she now has some uncontrollable bleeding and they haven't found where it is coming from yet. They are putting her in ICU tonight --and will run some tests searching for where the blood loss is coming from. Continued prayers for Ginny. Please pass this info on to other friends of Ginny --both on Blogger and Facebook. Thank You, and God Bless our friend, Ginny Hartzler.

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