Alaska Whale Watching Encounter
I saw a whale one time when I was a kid. A great big whale - and I was right next to him. His name was Shamu. I remember how excited I was to get my first glimpse of the massive creature, and it is as vivid a memory today as it was all those years ago.
I had heard that Alaska’s Inside Passage was a prime whale watching location. Migrating whales make their way through the passage twice a year, providing unparalleled viewing opportunities to visitors. Thinking back on my precious memories of Sea World, I was excited to get on the water and spot some of these elusive creatures for myself.
My first whale spotting came on the second day of my trip. (The captain and two passengers had seen a breaching whale on the first night, but I was having a drink in the salon). I was sitting in the wheelhouse with the Captain when he called my attention to some activity about 300 yards in front of the ship. He immediately cut the throttle as I peered through a set of binoculars. Within a minute I had a great view of a Gray Whale as he leapt out of the water. Although he was a good distance away from the boat, the binoculars made me feel like he was almost going to splash me!
I saw many whales over the next couple days. There were many instances of full breaches, some far away from the boat and some quite close. Perhaps my favorite sighting occurred on the last night of our cruise. We were motoring through a narrow and extremely deep waterway when we noticed something in the water no more then 100 feet off the side of the boat. A gently sloping back could be seen at intervals, slowly and smoothly moving through the water, keeping pace with the boat. The whale swam with us, seemingly enjoying our company, for at least ten minutes. Finally he flopped his massive tale and dove deep below us, disappearing into the wonderful blue abyss.
Comparing my Alaska whale watching experience to the Sea World trip is a little like comparing apples and oranges. Seeing these behemoths in their natural surroundings is absolutely amazing. Just as Shamu had done so many years earlier, the whales I saw in Alaska made a lasting impression that won’t soon fade.
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