Whales & Glaciers

30 years in Santa Barbara and I never saw a whale in the wild. The various whale watching excursions in Juneau guarantee that you’ll see whales. They can do that because the area is the Humpback summer home, and in the relatively compact waters of Auke Bay, their spouts make them easy to spot. Whales don’t keep a low profile. They don’t even really try.

The excursions were completely shut down for over a year and have only been up and running again for a few weeks. Our shuttle driver was a loquacious former New Yorker named Vince who moved to Juneau shortly after 9/11 and never looked back. He pointed out everything of interest along the way. At the end of the day, he dropped each of us off wherever we wanted to go.

The first whale we saw was a female that’s been summering in these waters for at least 40 years (as long as they’ve been tracking them). The other was her four-month-old calf. The calf breached once, but I wasn’t fast enough to get it on video. Numerous surface appearances, though.

I can also confirm that “Here, boy” doesn’t work any better for whales than it does for coyotes.

The excursion included a visit to Mendenhall Glacier, although that’s approximate. The hike to the glacier is about eight miles, so showing up at 5:00 PM doesn’t allow for anything more than the much shorter hike to Nugget Falls.

There had been a number of recent bear sightings around the glacier. I didn’t see any, though, which was both a disappointment and a relief.