Touring Alaska: 6 Things To Know About Wildlife Watching

Touring Alaska, we found that Juneau’s alpine meadows of the high country, frosted mountain slopes and rocky shores combine to create a distinctive ecosystem. On land, logging, mining, fishing and tourism activities compete in a delicate balance between the needs of man and the needs of the environment. At sea, protected species flourish, making Alaska one of the best places on the planet to get up close and personal with Humpback and Orca whales along with a variety of other wildlife. Being in the vicinity of Alaska’s wildlife and seeing it are two different things though.

To appreciate a viewing of whales, bears, seals and other species in their natural habitat, knowing something about them is a good idea. Here are some interesting facts about Alaska’s wildlife gained from a recent visit to the land of the midnight sun.

  1. Humpback whales can consume as much as a ton of fish every day– Migrating to Alaska in the summer months, Humpback whales end a winter-long fast to build up a thick layer of fat needed for their move to Hawaii and Mexico in the fall.
  2. Killer whales are capable of successfully attacking whales much larger than they are. Killer whales hunt in groups, communicating with each other and giving them a predator’s advantage over their prey.
  3. Kill the flash– The flash from a camera can scare away just about any wildlife at sea or on land. Good to know if confronted by #4
  4. Black Bears come in more colors than black– Brown (cinnamon bears), cream and blue (glacier bears) are the more popular colors.
  5. Sea Lions get their name from looking like terrestrial lions found in Africa and Asia– Steller Sea Lions have large necks and shoulders, covered with coarse hair that resembles a mane.
  6. “Eagle Eye” not just a saying– American Bald Eagles, plentiful in Alaska, can spot a fish from over a mile away, fly at speeds up to 30 miles an hour and dive at nearly 100 miles per hour.

[Flickr photo by *christopher*]