Lyn & Joanne's RV Adventure to Alaska travel blog

Leaving Skagway small boat harbor







Cruise ship at Haines,AK, as we passed by on our cruise


Glacier with waterfall


Stellar Sea Lion colony





Beautiful old Lighthouse

Part of a Fishing fleet

Old wooden Schooner

Humpbacks feeding





More Humpbacks 'Bubble fishing"!



Joanne and Grizzly


Juneau Red Trolley

Juneau Harley

Ice flows at Mendenhall Glacier

Mendenhall glacier

Joanne and I


Waterfall at Mendenhall glacier....people standing below it.


Info Center at Mendenhall glacier.....


Curious Black Bear

Still feeding

Young humpback playing




Sea Lions "Resting"

Harbor Seal Colony

Cruise ship at Skagway

Today we went on a high speed catamaran cruise to the capital of Alaska, Juneau. Juneau is interesting in that it can only be reached by air or sea. There are no roads to Juneau. This cruise is also a sea life watch, so we will look for whales, otters, sea lions, etc. along the way. The bus picked us up about 7:30am and took us to the harbor where we boarded the catamaran at 8:00am. We left the harbor and almost immediately the captain spotted a single Humpback Whale which he tried to get close to, but the whale wasn't interested so we went on our way. Then we went along the shore where we saw a pair of Eagles that the locals have named, as they are always there, complete with nest. We slowed down for a couple of beautiful waterfalls so we could take some pictures. It was interesting to see the commercial fishing boats, of all types and sizes along the way with their nets out. We did come across a Stellar Sea Lion colony on shore, they just sort of seem to "hang out". You'd think they would make a nice pet, if you owned an ocean, or at least a large pond. :>) We then came upon a few Humpback whales that we were able to watch for a while. They seemed to be "lunge" fishing, and did show their flukes from time to time. We passed a beautiful old lighthouse, no longer manned, but still operational. It is the second oldest lighthouse in Alaska. I spotted a grand old wooden schooner moored close to shore. Looked to be in excellent condition, and you could imagine it must be something to be on board and go for a cruise. We also passed by a few glaciers that were impressiveive(why not?). As we got closer to Juneau we came upon a bunch of Humpback Whales that were "bubble fishing". There were about 8 to 10 in this group. No one knows how the whales communicate, but one of the group is the designated "bubble maker" when near a school of fish. This means, he/she sort of circles the school of fish blowing bubbles, which makes the fish crazy and disorients them, then the other whales go into the circle and gobble up the fish. The Humpbacks must then expel the air and the mouth full of water, they do this by going vertical and get quite a ways out of the water, such that you could see the open mouth, and most of the head at times. They do this in a group as you can see in the pictures. It seems they must land on or at least bump each other when they do this. Apparently, they switch turns at "bubble making" too. The captain told us how to tell when this was going to occur, so as to be ready for pictures. The sea gulls are in on this too. They have learned that when they see the bubbles and the whales coming near the surface to swoop down close to the water, so as to catch any fish that get away from the whales mouths. This was repeated time after time, as we watched, and was an amazing sight. So when we would see the sea gulls circling closer and closer to the surface we knew the whales would lunge out of the water soon. Its quite a sight to see up to 50 ton whales trying to jump straight up and hang there for a while. Amazing!

We then went on into Juneau, where a bus picked us up and took us on a short tour of the city. They let us off about noon, and we had 3 hours or so to walk around downtown Juneau, and shop, get some lunch, or whatever you wanted to do. Joanne and I tried to find lunch, and by reading some of the brochures, we opted for a nice little Mexican place that was serving fresh Halibut Tacos, and we wanted Halibut. they were excellent, grilled, not deep fried, with home made taco shells. they were the best we had ever had, and we eat fish tacos quite a bit when we are in Tucson, because you just can't get a good old fashioned Wisconsin Fish Fry there. We then walked around and did some shopping, picking up a few things and returned to the parking lot for our rendezvous with the bus.

We boarded the bus and the driver took us to the Mendenhall Glacier, not far from Juneau, where we were given an hour to tour the information center and the glacier itself. This is a very accessible glacier, but like most is receeding so the new and beautiful visitor center is located where the glacier was 3 years ago. We took lots of pictures, and returned to the bus.

He then took us back to the harbor where we re-boarded our catamaran for the return trip to Skagway. by the way, we were served a continental breakfast shortly after departing this morning and have a .ight dinner of Salmon Chowder with rolls, etc. It was really good also.

After departing Juneau, we encountered the Humpbacks still feeding in the same area, watched them for a while, and saw a young Humpback who was just great to see. He was like any youngster, in that he would leap out of the water, stick his tail way up out of the water, and just splash, splash, splash all the time.

We then went closer to the lighthouse, previously mentioned, and saw some Harbor Seals lounging on shore. they are not unlike the Sea Lions in that they just sort of "hang out" on shore. We also saw some Sea Otters, which the caprtain said was rare for them to be in these waters, but sea otters they were.

We then went back on into Skagway returning about 8:20 pm. A long day, and we had some great memories, pictures and our fill of whales!

Tomorrow we leave for Teslin, Yukon.

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