Whale Watching on Auke Bay

Auke Bay Travel Blog

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Keith and I on the boat

Since Keith only has one day off per week, we decided to do some sightseeing on Thursday since it was our only day to hang together.  As he is a seasonal worker here, he has not seen much of the area himself.  Prior to my arrival, he mentioned whale watching as an option which I was totally excited about.  As my flight had got in late the night before, we both slept in a little and then finally wandered out and about around noon. 

 

We opted to do the Auke Bay whale watching trip which is about a 3 hour tour.

Mountains and partial view of the glacier
  The next tour was at 1pm which was only a little bit away so we wandered around the area a bit and kinda checked things out. What a contrast to the night before when we were walking around - it was like a true ghost town the night before and today, there were about 4 cruise ships in so the streets were filled with people. 

 

On this particular tour, you take a bus from the downtown area to Auke Bay where you board your boat which travels to various spots looking for both humpback and orca whales.  The boats are pretty well designed for maximum viewing while inside and then you can run up top in the cold once a whale is spotted.  And since the windows actually open, many of my shots came from right in my warm seat! LOL.

Finally a glimpse of their faces!
 

 

Our group was pretty small which was nice - I believe there were 10 of us on this large boat so it was like a private tour and the Naturalist had ample opportunity to speak with everyone and answer any questions.  One of the first questions was the type of whales we expected to see.  Obviously humpbacks were number one but the whale on everyone’s mind was the orca.  She explained that the Orcas are very hit or miss in sightings.  Sometimes they can go a week or two without seeing any. 

 

We were only out a short time and low and behold - the captain spotted a family of Orcas! We stopped for quite a while and followed the family around.  Of course, I had not brought the big camera with me on this trip (stupid me) and having a camera with even the slightest of delays caused me to lose most of the pristine shots of the whales.

Close up of one of the Orcas
  I did manage to get a couple pictures, although they look more like shark fins! HA HA.  In any case, it was magnificent to see the Orcas in their natural habitat versus the Shamu shows I am used to at Sea World. 

 

After moving on from the Orca whales, we made our way down the channel in search of the humpbacks.  It seemed like we had barely traveled any distance and we spotted the first of three.  What a contrast from the Orca whales which were visible on the surface much more.  The humpback whale can stay down for 7-8 minutes at a time and usually when you see their tail, they are on a long dive in search of food.  Our naturalist advised that food is somewhat scarce so the chance of seeing any whales breaching (or playing around) is pretty slim these days as they are mainly on the hunt for their food sources. 

 

After we finished our whale watching trip, both Keith and I were already getting pretty tired.

Finally a whale tail!
  We decided to head down to the waterfront and grab some lunch/dinner at a popular locals place called the Hangar.  It’s right on the water where the float planes and other charter boats dock.  Since it was before the main dinner rush, they were not completely packed yet and we hopped up to the bar which has an amazing display of various tap handles!!  They featured about 20 beers on tap but had the whole window area decorated with additional handles.  Having a kegerator at home and collecting tap handles, I was in heaven looking at all the breweries represented! 

 

Everything on their menu looked fabulous and seeing other peoples’ orders, it appeared some things were large portions.  One thing to note about food prices in Alaska (at least Juneau anyways) - don’t expect to find seafood cheaper even though it is local.

Beautiful humpback tail as he dives for food
  Holy cow!  Both Keith and I ordered the Halibut Fish and Chips which was three filets of halibut - I opted for the beer battered one since I assume it is in Alaskan Amber beer and Keith ordered the tempura battered one.  And no trip to Alaska would be complete without enjoying a cold Alaskan Amber beer with my fish!  Yummy for my tummy! :) 

 

Since it is pretty much light all night, Juneau does a big 4th of July fireworks celebration at midnight.  With the fireworks is the apparent crazy partying that follows it.  The Hangar was setting up for a live band for the evening -  “Lulu and the AquaNets”.

Mendenhall Glacier
Yeah…interesting name.  Prior to seeing the banner for the band, I saw the two cans of Aqua Net on the amplifier and wondered what that was all about! LOL.  There was two people setting up and the one lady appeared to be Lulu. I seriously doubt the older gentleman was one of the Aqua Nets but you never know I suppose! LOL.

 

By this time, we had scarfed down our fish and consumed a few beers and I was thoroughly exhausted.  It was like 7pm and we had planned to watch the fireworks at midnight so we opted to go back and relax/nap a little in hopes of getting our second wind for the evening…….

 

kelleeoo says:
Nice whale tails!
Posted on: Jul 12, 2008
X_Drive says:
Wow, you really did get some great shots of the whales! :)
Posted on: Jul 12, 2008
sheba124 says:
Great photos of the whales!
Posted on: Jul 12, 2008
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Keith and I on the boat
Keith and I on the boat
Mountains and partial view of the …
Mountains and partial view of the…
Finally a glimpse of their faces!
Finally a glimpse of their faces!
Close up of one of the Orcas
Close up of one of the Orcas
Finally a whale tail!
Finally a whale tail!
Beautiful humpback tail as he dive…
Beautiful humpback tail as he div…
Mendenhall Glacier
Mendenhall Glacier
Auke Bay
Auke Bay
Mountains surrounding the bay
Mountains surrounding the bay
Looking back toward Juneau
Looking back toward Juneau
Glacier visible from the boat
Glacier visible from the boat
Looking out past Auke Bay - toward…
Looking out past Auke Bay - towar…
Mountains along the bay
Mountains along the bay
Distant view back into Mendenhall …
Distant view back into Mendenhall…
Another distant view back to Junea…
Another distant view back to June…
Our first whales....little tiny do…
Our first whales....little tiny d…
Orca sighting!
Orca sighting!
More Orcas
More Orcas
Orca pod
Orca pod
They are getting closer!
They are getting closer!
Orcas
Orcas
More orcas
More orcas
One gets closer
One gets closer
And closer....
And closer....
Here Shamu! LOL
Here Shamu! LOL
So beautiful together
So beautiful together
It kept getting closer
It kept getting closer
Such magnificant creatures!
Such magnificant creatures!
Looking back toward Juneau
Looking back toward Juneau
Distant views of Alaska mountains
Distant views of Alaska mountains
Humpback sighting!
Humpback sighting!
Humpback
Humpback
Humpback diving down
Humpback diving down
What an opportunity to watch them …
What an opportunity to watch them…
Close up of the humpback
Close up of the humpback
Bald Eagle flying over
Bald Eagle flying over
Headed back towards Juneau and Auk…
Headed back towards Juneau and Au…
Auke Bay Harbor
Auke Bay Harbor
Auke Bay Harbor
Auke Bay Harbor
Auke Bay Sights & Attractions review
Whale Watching in Auke Bay
While visiting Juneau, my friend had one day off and we opted to go whale watching since he had never been. There are a number of tours offered near … read entire review
Auke Bay
photo by: euphemy