Also called killer whales, Orcas are one of the most commonly sighted whales in Alaska.
Orca whales often cruise at the surface of the water, spouting every couple seconds as they swim. They are easily identified by their large black triangular dorsal fin.
The best avenue to watch Orca whales surface and even jump is by boat. If you are interested in more of a custom Alaska experience check out our Alaska small ship cruises where we've had Orcas surface and spray the deck with water when they surface.
The best time to travel to Alaska to watch Orcas is during the months of June and July after they have completed their migration from Hawaii.
Orcas are usually between 27 and 32 feet long, and live and hunt in small family pods ranging from 10 to 50 members. These black and white whales feed off birds, sea turtles, fish such as salmon, and even other whales.
They are the second most widely distributed mammal on earth, second only to humans. They can be found in almost all oceans across all hemispheres, but usually live in colder waters.
Orcas fall into three distinct subspecies that each has its own unique genetic signature. The first, and most widely, studied are resident orcas. These usually stay within a couple hundred miles of their home territory.
The other two subspecies are transient and offshore orcas. As their names suggest, these orcas range for hundreds of miles often following the migration patterns of salmon and other prey.
The most mysterious of these three are the offshore orcas. Scientists haven't been able to study them as thoroughly because they live so far from land.
The best time to travel to Alaska depends on what you are wanting to do. The best time to cruise to Alaska is between May and August.
The lowest rainfall in Alaska is during the months of May and June. If you are wanting to visit Alaska to see whales, it's best to go on a cruise during June and July after the whales have made their migration.
However if you want to see bears in Alaska, the best time to travel to Alaska is during the month of May.