Humpback Whales: Alaska 2021
Humpback Whale Watching & Photography!
8 Days/7 Nights
Join me on board the M/V Northern Song. The focus on this trip is humpback whales, and they are everywhere!
The chances are more than good for great breaching shots, bubble-net feeding and other behavior. Also get a great look at glaciers and other Alaskan wildlife, possibly even bears!
With a maximum group size of 8 guests, the experiences are intimate and wild. Bring your drone, and capture the whales from the air!
Whale whale whale!
In the calm, protected waters of Alaska’s Inside Passage you are outside on the front deck of a custom 80-foot private yacht, enjoying the crisp, fresh air of a sunshine-filled summer Alaskan morning with a select small group of no more than seven other passengers. Snow-capped mountains form a perfect backdrop to the calm sea. The outside speaker crackles with the voice of Captain Dennis Rogers “the depth sounder shows a large school of herring in the immediate area.” Chief researcher Dr. Adam Pack points out the herring “bubbling” at the surface and asks everyone to listen. As the water pops with herring, you hear a faint cry. The cry fades but quickly starts again, this time louder. Again and again the cry sounds. You and your fellow participants take up positions so as to see all areas around the boat. Suddenly, Adam calls out “bubbles, port bow!” All eyes turn as a ring of large bubbles forms at the surface. Then suddenly, 10 45-foot long humpback whales with mouths wide open lunge straight up in synchrony through the surface. Herring leap into the air an attempt to escape, but most fall prey to the enormous leviathans. You have only a few moments to marvel at the choreography of the hunt before the whales begin to dive. With each dive a whale exposes the underside of its tail flukes (the whale’s “finger print”).
Humpback whales are a migratory species that spend winter months breeding and calving in warm, tropical waters and summer months feeding at higher latitudes in colder, productive waters. Southeastern Alaska is the major feeding area for North Pacific humpback whales from Hawaii. Each spring, thousands of humpback whales from Hawaii make the long journey to southeast Alaska. In 1980, after spending the winter and spring months studying humpback whales in Hawaiian waters, researchers from the University of Hawaii migrated with the whales to their feeding grounds in southeast Alaska’s Frederick Sound. There, they photographed individual whales to learn about their migratory trends, habitat use and feeding habits. In the years that followed, these researchers also documented humpback whales using feeding calls, bubble nets, and synchronous lunges to cooperatively hunt schools of herring. How long do the associations between individual humpback whales that cooperatively feed in these groups last? Are the associations between individual whales observed in Alaska also seen in Hawaii? And do the associations between individual humpbacks in Hawaii persist in Alaska? Now, some 30 years after those initial pioneering studies, Dr. Adam A. Pack, Associate Professor at University of Hawaii at Hilo and Co-Founder and Vice President of The Dolphin Institute, a Hawaii-based nonprofit organization, has returned to the waters of Frederick Sound to answer these and other questions.
Prices and Dates
Join me on this spectacular tour!
Lower Deck Cabin
July 23-30, 2021
0 Space Left
Per Person Cost, From
July 23-30, 2021
0 Space Left
Per Person Cost, From
What you can expect
Working under special Federal Research Permits to Dr. Pack to study humpback whales and other cetaceans, you will assist him in sighting, recording GPS locations, documenting behavior including feeding activities, and photographing the identities of individual humpback whales in Frederick Sound and its inlets and passages. Humpbacks will be studied while feeding individually as well as in groups, and feeding tactics will be carefully documented. Skin samples may also be obtained to determine the sex of individuals and to examine humpback whale health status. In addition to data collection, you will also have the opportunity to assist in data processing and analysis to discover the life histories of photo-identified whales, and to learn about humpback whale ecology through readings, discussions and documentary films.
If by chance the excitement of the humpback whale observation and data collection is not enough, there are many additional opportunities to sight other marine mammals such as killer whales, Dall’s porpoise, Stellar sea lions, and sea otters, as well as a variety of birds, bears, and other wildlife. Some other activities that can be included in the daily schedule are shore hikes, glacier viewing, beach combing, sport fishing for halibut, crab and shrimp, sea kayaking and a visit to a natural hot springs or Tlingit village.
No special training or skills are required, only a hearty spirit and an interest in whale research and whale photography. Dr. Adam Pack has been researching whales, dolphins, and other marine mammals for over 25 years. He has published over 40 journal articles and scientific reports on marine mammals, and his scientific discoveries have been featured in newspapers, popular magazines, and television documentaries.
All meals on board, wine with dinner. Soft drinks and Alaska brewed beer complimentary. Boots on request. Ground transport to boat for boarding.
- 9 Days/8 Nights
- Accommodation on board M/V Northern Song
- All meals while onboard
- All nature activities
- Wine with dinner
What’s Not Included
- Travel insurance
While seas are generally calm on this expedition, it’s possible that we could encounter rough conditions, which may cause issues for travelers prone to motion sickness. Please consult your physician about medications that control motion sickness.
Your Tour Organizer: Nadia Aly
“I want to show you the extraordinary animals that call our oceans home…” – Nadia Aly
Nadia Aly is a wildlife photographer who specializes in underwater photography. She holds a master’s degree in digital media from the Centre for Digital Media in Vancouver, British Columbia and has had her work featured on National Geographic, Sony World Photo, Underwater Photographer of the Year and Nature’s Best Photography.
She is also the owner of ScubaDiverLife.com – an online news portal for scuba diving & ocean conservation enthusiasts.