Whales and Marine Ecology of Southeast Alaska

One of our most fun trips of the year is back! Join us as we welcome back marine biologist, educator, and killer whale researcher, Josh McInnes for an exciting cruise where we’ll explore the ecology of Southeast Alaska’s marine life. We’ll search for killer whales in Endicott or Tracy Arms and humpback whales in Frederick Sound, as well as troll for plankton and explore the unfamiliar microscopic world. There will be lots of time for kayaking, tidepooling and learning how the sea and the forest are interconnected.

To get to know a little more about Josh, have a listen to our podcast where we talk about Josh’s love for marine biology, whales, and cephalopods. Listen here…

Itinerary – 8-Days Northbound Petersburg to Juneau

Trip #379
Dates: June 17 – 24, 2021
Boards: Petersburg
Disembarks: Juneau
Price: $7,100 per person

For availability and discounts visit our Schedule and Rates Page.

Day 1

Semi palmated plover in Alaska
You’ll board the David B in Petersburg at noon, stow your luggage and familiarize yourself with the boat, your fellow passengers, and the crew.  After lunch, you’ll have time to explore Petersburg’s rich fishing community with an interpretive dock walk with Captain Jeffrey. In the evening, our naturalist Josh will accompany you to a talk about marine mammals in Alaska from the local Sea Grant scientists. Dinner will be served aboard the David B and you’ll spend the night at the dock.

Day 2
Petersburg to Baird Glacier, Scenery Cove

Early in the morning, the David B will get underway for Thomas Bay and Baird Glacier’s outwash plain. You’ll get to explore a landscape that has gone through a rapid change in recent years. You’ll discover a microcosm of plant-life as well as a chance to see nesting Arctic Terns.

Day 3
Scenery Cove to Eliza Harbor

Killer whales in AlaskaThe David B will be underway before breakfast and cruise through Frederick Sound with a quick stop in Farragut Bay to pick up some local organic vegetables grown by Marja and Beau of Farragut Farms. Once the veggie delivery has been completed, you’ll spend time with our naturalist Josh as he discusses in detail about the two types of killer whales that frequent southeast Alaskan waters. In the late afternoon, we’ll anchor in Eliza Harbor with an option for a skiff ride, beach walk or kayaking.

Day 4
Harbor to Baranof Warm Springs

On this day, we’ll be watching for humpback whales, sea lions, and sea otters as we make our way to Baranof Island and Warm Springs Bay. Once we’re there we’ll be on the lookout for brown bears that sometimes forage at low tide, and for whales that occasionally frequent the harbor. We’ll also have a chance to meet with people from the Alaska Whale Foundation to talk about their work. We’ll also have time to visit the hot springs and go for a hike.

Day 5
Baranof Warm Springs to Cannery Cove

Cannery Cove is located on Admiralty Island, known as Kootznoowoo to the Tlingit people. It’s an island known for its brown bear Brown bear rock climbing in Alaskapopulation. With approximately 1600 brown bears on the islands, there’s always a good chance of spotting one on the beach. While we’re at Cannery Cove, you’ll get to kayak, take a skiff ride, and go ashore to learn, hands-on, about intertidal life.

Day 6
Cannery Cove to Fords Terror

We’ll cross over from Admiralty Island through Stephens Passage to the mainland. Along the way, watch humpback whales that feed in these nutrient-rich waters. Josh will also show slides that will introduce you to the art of individual whale identification. In the afternoon we’ll enter Endicott Arm, a fjord made by a tidewater glacier. We’ll anchor at Fords Terror and go for a hike that includes glacier carved kettle ponds, muskeg plants, and lush forest.

Day 7
Fords Terror to Dawes Glacier to Tracy Arm

Glacier in Alaska calving ice.When the tide reaches high-water and the current is slack, you’ll skiff through a narrow cut at Fords Terror that opens into a glacier-carved canyon with walls approximately 3000 feet high. It’s one of the most breathtaking places to experience. You’ll learn about the geology that created this landscape. When you return to the boat, we’ll get underway for Dawes Glacier, where you’ll witness first-hand the raw power of nature as she sculpts rocks and landscapes. In the evening, the David B will exit Endicott Arm and anchor at the mouth of Tracy Arm.

Day 8

We’ll leave our anchorage early, and be on the lookout for humpback whales and bald eagles as we make our way to Juneau. Josh will lecture on ecology and how all of the places you visited and all the plants and animals that you saw are intertwined to bring you a greater understanding of the ecology of southeast Alaska.

Please note that this is a sample itinerary and it is subject to change depending on weather and wildlife.

Josh McInnes:

Josh at Dawes Glacier

Josh McInnes is a marine biologist specializing in the ecology of marine mammals. He has spent over decade studying their ecology. Josh’s work on killer whales started in British Columbia, where he focused on the transient or Bigg’s mammal hunting ecotype. He also collaborates with researchers studying killer whales in Australia, South Africa, Washington, Alaska, and California. Josh obtained a BSc in marine biology at the University of Victoria, British Columbia, and taught ocean sciences at the Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre in Bamfield BC. He is currently the research coordinator at Marine Life Studies in Monterey Bay, California where he focuses on studying toothed cetaceans.