Alaska Whales

Alaska whales - spy-hopping humpback whale

"We have sought wildlife experiences on five continents. Seeing and hearing humpbacks bubble-feeding off Home Shore's bow was nature at its most enchanting and awe-inspiring."

~ Rand and Dana Jack, Washington State

Alaska whale tail

Did you know? Humpback songs are most likely to be heard through the hull of a ship made of wood, which acts like a transducer.
See below,
The Presence of Whales, p. 89.

Max. sizes:

Humpbacks: 52', 100,000 lbs.

Grays: 46 ft., 71,000 lbs.

Orcas: 27 ft, 12,000 lbs.

Recommended Reading:

The Presence of Whales
Ed. by Frank Stewart. Alaska Northwest Books, 1995

Eye of the Whale
Dick Russell, Simon & Schuster, 2001

Whales of Alaska

Click on photo above for enlargements

". . .enormous mother whales lie dreaming. . .with strange whale eyes wide open in the waters of the beginning and the end."
~ David Herbert Lawrence (1932)

You are guaranteed to see whales on your Home Shore tour, often a hundred or more. You will watch them from the ship, from kayaks, and from land. We always follow observation guidelines and respect their space, but they often closely approach us.

Humpback whales are leviathan ballerinas, breaching and tail-slapping in unison. We find them on Alaska's inland passages throughout the summer months.

Alaska humpback whales bubble-net feeding

When the signal is called, the whales lunge vertically into the air, mouths agape, throats bulging with hundreds of gallons of water, then slowly fall back to expel the water through their baleen, which retains the fish. Watching this wonder is a lifetime experience.

Alaskan kayaking near humpback whale

A lone juvenile gray met Home Shore two years running in an isolated coastal inlet. The second year he followed us into protected waters and enchanted our anchorage by lying nearby all night, breathing audibly. Our guest named him "Earl," and we later described this experience in a magazine article.

Alaska whales - Orca
Alaska whales - nearby breaching humpback whale

Humpback bubble-net feeding requires a division of labor and is executed by just two pods and only in Southeast Alaska. As the pod communicates with various sounds, it exhales a narrowing circle of bubbles to concentrate a herring school. We listen to this eerie humpback "song" with hydrophones, sometimes with the naked ear.

Alaska humpback whale lunge feeding

Gray whales are present on the outer coast until about July 4. While not acrobatic, they often closely approach one or two at a time, clearly curious and seemingly desiring to commune with us. They feed by scooping and sifting soft bottom sediments, trailing a brown plume on the surface.

Orcas are seen on many of our tours. These "killer whales," members of the porpoise family, slash into sight out of nowhere to cause a mad on-board scramble to viewing sites. Orcas typify Southeast Alaska's frequent wildlife surprises - be alert!

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Alaska on the Home Shore© All Rights Reserved
Except for the main homepage graphic, no image contains objects that have been digitally manipulated. All Alaska whales photographs were taken during Alaskan Home Shore tours, with contributions from professionals Gary Luhm, Suzanne Steel, Heath Cowart, & Ben Kyle.