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.
Itinerary – 8-Days Northbound Petersburg to Juneau
Dates: June 30 – July 7, 2019
Departs: Juneau 12:00pm & Disembarks: Petersburg 3:00pm
Price: $6,500 per person
For availability see your Schedule and Rates Page
You’ll board the David B in Juneau 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.
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.
Scenery Cove to Eliza Harbor
The 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.
Eliza 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.
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 population. 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.
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.
Fords Terror to Dawes Glacier to Tracy Arm
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.
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 is currently working towards a graduate degree on transient killer whales. He is very interested in their foraging and diet studies and the ecological relationships between them and their prey. Besides conducting research, Josh has been a whale watch guide throughout British Columbia and was recently interviewed for the documentary Fragile Waters. He is also conducting independent research on killer whales with a small group of volunteers. We always enjoy having Josh on board and the new insights on killer whales he brings through his research. Here is more information about the Transient Killer Whale Research Project.