It’s a whale of a time!
Whales are all around the world, but here in Juneau we have the best whales. We pride ourselves on our summer humpback whale population. If you did not know already, it is estimated that 10% of the world’s humpback whales’ population resides in the waters around Juneau during our whale watching season. We also get regular sightings of orcas.
The North Pacific humpback whales are enormous creatures. They are basically the size of a school bus. A bus! That is huge, especially when they can typically weigh 25 to 50 tons! Humpback whales are easily identifiable, too, by their abnormally large pectoral fins (flippers), big fanned tail and hump-shaped back with a small black dorsal fin. Also, don’t worry that you will miss the whales. We have plenty for you to see, and it is estimated that a humpback whales live to be an average age of 40-55 years. Many live to be a lot older than that.
Make sure to ask our naturalist about the local whale legend named Flame!
We will be calling humpbacks our neighbors from April-September. Humpback whales can migrate more than 3,000 miles on their annual journey starting in the North Pacific Ocean. They make their rounds to visit Juneau’s pristine and protected waters. You may be starting to get the idea of why we guarantee humpback whale sightings. During the summertime, we are blessed to see them cruising the waters of Alaska, East Russia and British Columbia. The waters around Juneau are perfect for whales and their new calves. Here they have an abundance of food and are greatly protected. During our winter they travel to mostly Hawaii, Central America, Asia, or Mexico—for mating, giving birth and rearing their young.
No longer listed under the Endangered Species Act.
The U.S. government listed all humpback whales as endangered back in 1970, after commercial whaling had drastically reduced their numbers; however, they are back! The whales that is. Due to international conservation efforts to protect and conserve whales over the past 40 years, their numbers are looking promising. Interestingly, in the fall of 2016, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries deemed the once endangered humpback whales that feed here in Juneau, Alaska, recovered enough that they were delisted under the Endangered Species Act in 2016.
To learn more about the finer things regarding humpback whales refer to the two articles below:
Information cited from nationalgeographic.com, noaa.gov, naturemappingfoundation.org, environmentalaska.us, nationalforests.org, onekindplanet.org, kidskonnect.com, arkive.org, discoverwildlife.com and uas.alaska.edu.