Alaska Whale-watching

Old Nov 24th, 2016, 07:57 AM
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Alaska Whale-watching

We are trying to determine if 'whale-watching' tours should be on our agenda for our July trip to Alaska. We went whale-watching this past August off the San Juan Islands in Washington. A unique and enjoyable experience, BUT I would not go a second time. Regulations allowed us only a view from afar, and I would not want to waste our time and money if the same held true for whale-watching in Alaska. Also, Sitka is one of the ports that seem to offer prime viewing, and I would probably leave this port off our agenda if we skipped the whales.

Thanks for any insight you can offer.
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Old Nov 25th, 2016, 11:03 AM
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Whales are free to go where they want, so there can be no guarantees. When we were on a cruise in late August we only saw a few and from a distance. That may have been that the whales thought it was time to head south when we were there.

The local captains should know where they are before you leave and most will be honest about the likelihood of seeing them.

That said, there are rules about how close the ships may move when near whales, but the whales don't care about rules and will go where they want. Both near Hawaii and off the coast of Cape cod, the boats stopped moving and the whales came very close. Once DH and DS were on the rail and a whale came under the boat and exhaled in their faces. Smelly but awesome.
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Old Nov 25th, 2016, 11:27 AM
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Fortunately, I think all states that have whales in the coastal waters have regulations about how closely boats can approach whales. I live in Seattle and have seen whales from the ferry (in the San Juans) many times. We also went to the NaPali coast in Kauai, and some of the whales approached the boat and were right up next to it. When that happens, the captain cuts the power to the engines and you just stay and watch them until they get bored and go away.

If you will only be happy seeing the whales close up, then don't go.
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Old Nov 26th, 2016, 08:59 AM
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We happened to luck out with a perfectly calm sea when we did the Kenai Fjords trip out of Seward. We only saw two or three humpback whales but where very close, close enough to smell whale breath. We saw a lot of orcas which I remember best because their synchronized diving was fascinating. We spent a lot of time watching them. The glacier didn't calve that day but there was plenty of ice where we went. The engines were turned off so we could hear all the sounds. We saw other wildlife and birds. It was a wonderful all day trip. Seward is a great town to visit even if you don't go on a boat trip.
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Old Nov 26th, 2016, 11:13 AM
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>>Regulations allowed us only a view from afar, and I would not want to waste our time and money if the same held true for whale-watching in Alaska.anywhere in the States) but if they decide to swim near the boats -- their choice.

My last time out of Juneau we didn't see any Humpbacks-- but tons of Orca. Including a trio taking down a seal -- which was both exhilarating and horrifying.
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Old Nov 27th, 2016, 06:38 AM
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Of course I did not mean "their well being be damned"; But, IMHO the government always goes well overboard in their restrictions. As a boat captain on the east coast, I believe there are far better options that can be pursued.
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