Published: June 25th 2012
June 23rd 2012
Not having done my homework, I thought Juneau was a much bigger city, being the capitol of Alaska. I was pleasantly surprised to see that it has a population of 30,000 and is another cute old mining town. We are having unbelievable luck with the weather. The forecast for today in Juneau is sunny and 81! Everyone tells us it rained all last week and the week before. We're just going to keep our fingers crossed for the rest of this trip that it continues, but that would be asking an awful lot.
We were booked to do a whale watching cruise followed by a tour of Mendenhall Glacier. We didn't have to leave for the cruise until 1:00 PM, so we walked around some of Juneau, checking out the shops. We boarded the whale watching boat, the St. Phillip, around 1:30. We've been cruising through the Inside Passage and this boat trip would be through the Stephens Passage, where the whales seem to congregate. Although there are Orca whales in Alaskan waters, the largest population and the whales we would see are Humpbacks. These are the whales we've seen in the waters near Maui during the winter months. The
Humpbacks breed and deliver their babies in the Hawaiian waters. Their gestation period is around 11 months. They spend their summers in these Alaskan waters and this is where they do their feeding. They eat for 6 months here and do not eat while in Hawaii because none of their food fish are there. These whales eat about 1,500 lbs. of fish a day; all small fish since they cannot ingest anything bigger than a grapefruit. They are able to store enough fat to get them through the winter months in Hawaii.
We had some great whale viewing today. We saw two whales completely breach (jump out of the water) right in front of Jan and Marilyn. I wasn't able to get a picture of the breaches on this cruise since Jan has convinced me to watch them rather than trying to photograph them and missing a lot. There was a group of about 9 whales playing and swimming together that we were following. If you look in the picture section here you'll see that I did get a good picture of the whales bubble netting. Bubble netting is a feeding strategy where the whales blow bubbles in a
circle that trap thousands of little fish and then they swim up to the surface to swallow all of the fish. While out there, we also saw a bunch of Stellar Sea Lions and several bald eagles.
After the whale cruise, the bus took us to Mendenhall Glacier. It was our first big glacier and was a pretty spot with Mendenhall Lake, fed by the glacier and Mendenhall Falls.
It turned out to be the longest excursion of the cruise and we didn't get back to the ship until 8:00 PM. We were all exhausted and it turned into a pretty early night in the sack.
There are more photos below