One of the things I had yet to see in Alaska were the gray whales. They do their yearly migration from Mexico and California and hit Alaska in early spring. This is typically late March through early May. There are about 20,000 of these large gray mammals hitting Resurrection Bay, just off of Seward, Alaska. In case you didn’t know, Seward is one of my absolute favorite cities in Alaska!
I was so excited to get asked to go out on a Kenai Fjords Gray Whale Tour! You put me anywhere near wildlife and I am one happy girl. This was the shortest of the Kenai Fjords Tour (KFT) at just four hours. Luckily, I was on the cruise with fellow Alaska family travel blogger, Erin Kirkland with AKontheGO. She had her husband (who is a huge craft beer fan) and her awesome son with her. She also was breaking in Bryan Bearss, an Iditarod musher, into the travel writing world. Check out Bryan’s 1st post on Frog Zombies.
Wanna join me on my first gray whale cruse? Don’t read on if you are not a fan of really cute, and I mean, really cute wildlife! 😉
We lucked out with a beautiful sunny day in Seward. There were clouds hovering around, but thankfully, they refrained from pelting us with a Spring rain shower.
The newest catamaran boat in the KFT fleet – the Callisto Voyager. She was a beauty! Once we got going, it was like boating on glass – so smooth and seemingly effortless. No need for ginger candy or motion sickness meds today!
Happy to report that I didn’t go overboard and did not need to break-in this brand spanking new emergency gear. Whew!
The Callisto Voyager has this nifty new 3D imaging camera that shows the bottom of the ocean floor. It was way cool to see all the mountains and valleys that were right underneath us. In some spots in was a hundred feet and in others, it dropped down to a thousand feet! The geography of a Kenai Fjords truly fascinates me.
The first animal we saw was none other than my favorite bird – the Bald Eagle. I spotted him up on the ridge while sitting inside the boat and ran out there to grab photos. Bryan chuckled at me and asked if I was new to Alaska because seeing a Bald Eagle happens all the time. I don’t think, and I hope I don’t, ever get tired of seeing these big, magnificent birds. I love them!
Look at how big this Eagle’s Nest was! It took up an entire ridge of this cliff! Bald Eagles primarily eat salmon so this guy has the perfect home right over Resurrection Bay. In May, he will hunt King Salmon and move onto Silvers and Sockeye in June and July. Then if he is still hungry, the pink salmon show up in August. Five types of salmon to fish in these waters and this Bald Eagle is ready!
I mean, seriously, I think this Harbor Seal is smiling at me! I think we caught them on a little date. I was hoping to see a few pups, but they were either hiding or not born just yet. I love the white polka dotted skin of these seals.
This big guy didn’t get the memo that he was planking the wrong way. He is supposed to be on his flippers, not on his side. Sigh. 🙂
Captain Tim made sure to have us turn off our flashes and keep our voices down as we didn’t want to disturb these seals. At first they looked like driftwood until we were able to get closer to see them. So cute!
Caught a pic of Erin as she was looking up at me taking pics. I like that hat she was wearing. 🙂
Everyone is scanning the water looking for a waterspout to tell us a whale was near. When whale watching, you need a lot of patience and a great deal of luck. And most importantly, Captains talking to each other when they spot the big guys. That is one thing I love about Alaska – they are a community. Even when working for competing companies, the cruise lines work together so that all of their passengers see the wonders of Alaska.
In the beginning of the day we saw a few Humpback and Gray Whales. Typically, just a smidge shot of their bodies. I was quite happy when I got a a little tale. 🙂 When you see the tale like this, it means that the whale is diving down and typically goes down for at least 5-10 minutes.
Erin took this pic of me while I was watching the sea lions. I love the color contract between the orange and the blue green of the ocean.
Stellar Sea Lions love hanging out in the cold Arctic waters in the Gulf of Alaska! You can hear their honking and carrying on from far away too. Just look at all the seabirds that are hanging around too!
I was super excited when Captain Tim point out these Mountain Goats just a little bit away from the sea lions. I have seen Dall Sheep, but I had yet to see Mountain goats. Yippee!! More animals to check out my Alaska Animal Must See List!
I liked watching this duck take off once his belly was full of fish. Didn’t think he was going to make it there for a minute. Beautiful to watch!
Right after the goats, we were watching this whale and hoping he would make an appearance. What was strange about this guy was that he resembled both a Gray Whale and a Humpback Whale. I’m sending my photos over to KFT for them and the park rangers to take a look at to see what exactly he was.
I caught this pic of him bouncing up and down with his large noise out of the water. This was the first time we had seen any whale do this today. I will admit, I started jumping up and down for joy knowing I had gotten the shot. He received a standing ovation from everyone on the boat! We wanted more whale action!
The Captain made the announcement that we needed to get back to shore as the cruise was ending. Just as he turned the boat, this whale leapt out of the water breaching and sending a huge splash of water down. Everyone started cheering and screaming for the Captain to stop the boat. We witnessed a few more minutes of this whale putting on a show for us. He was not happy that we were headed in and wanted to play a bit longer for our attention.
As the whale waved goodbye to us, I took a minute to look around at the fellow passengers. Quite a few people had tears streaming down their faces at what they just witnessed. People save up for years to afford to take an Alaskan vacation. Seeing these whales and all the other animals today was a once in a lifetime experience. We were blessed to see Bald Eagles, Harbor Seals, Seabirds (tons of birds!), Stellar Sea Lions, Mountain Goats, Dall Porpoises, Humpback Whales, and Gray Whales. What an amazing day!
These photos were taken on my Canon T3i and 55-250 lens.
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Keep up the great writing.
I’m going on a trip up to Alaska next month. I am so excited!! I hear that the whale watching tours are amazing. My husband has been talking about trying to go watch orcas. I think the humpback whales are my favorite!
Alaska is utterly amazing!! The first whale watching tour starts in late March when the gray whales come to town. During the winter, there is a very teeny tiny chance of seeing Beluga Whales in Turnagain Arm, near Anchorage! Let me know if you have any questions – happy to answer them.