There are nine different types of whales in Alaska. The Beluga, Blue, Bowhead, Bottlenose, Gray, Humpback, Orca, Minke and Sperm. The most common whales that you will see whale watching in Alaska are the Orca and humpback whales.
Beluga whales are the easy to identify as they are pure white and quite a bit smaller than other types of whales in Alaska.
Beluga whales can also be easily identified because they do not have a dorsal fin and have a larger round head and forehead. Their forehead is soft and non-bony..
A really unique feature of these whales is that several of their neck vertebrae are not fused, which allows the Beluga to turn its head without turning its body. This gives them an incredible advantage for visibility and movement when they are swimming. This is gives them an incredible advantage from predators like sharks and polar bears.
Beluga whales are also quite a bit smaller and are comparable in size to dolphins. View the image below to see the difference between a dolphin and beluga whale:
Beluga Whales have a life expectancy of around 30 years and will reach their full size at around 10 years old.
Beluga Whale Sizes:
Beluga Whales eat marine species that are most common depending on the season and location. They feed on salmon, shrimp, whitefish, cod, mussels and more.
Range of location:
Beluga whales inhabit the range from Russia to Alaska and down to Canada. And also from Canada up to Greenland and Norway. You can view Beluga whales in the following locations in Alaska: Cook Inlet, Bristol Bay, eastern Bering Sea, eastern Chukchi Sea and Beaufort Sea.
Check out this incredible video of a Beluga Whale teasing a couple kids at the museum. I couldn't help but share it :)
Grey whales are one of the most unsung marine mammals of Alaska's Inside Passage. These barnacle-covered beauties are not hidden from view because they are small - they are the size of a school bus - but because of their feeding habits are much less frequently seen than their counterparts like the humpback or orca are. Grey Whales like to move along the bottom of the ocean floor and suck up sand and silt filled with krill, plankton, and other tiny organisms.
Instead of teeth, they have big sieve-like plates known as Baleen. Grey whales take immense gulps off water, silt and plankton off the ocean floor and then push out the excess water and sand leaving only the tasty plankton behind. They head north from Mexico every year because they know that Alaska has exceptionally nutrient-rich water.
Minke whales have the biggest population of any whale species, so you may be wondering why they are so elusive. These sleek, dark-colored whales are smaller than a humpback, but bigger than an orca, and can swim at speeds up to 20 miles an hour. They also have a smaller blowhole and spout, and can submerge faster than many other species. Because of their large numbers, Minke whales are still hunted in the waters of Japan and Norway.
However, Minke whales frequent the waters of the Inside Passage, and their curious nature often draws them to inspect and play near cruise ships. Ask our naturalist during your next private Alaska yacht charter and maybe you too will spot one of these elusive whales.
Who, what (whale watching), when, where,
Link to whale watching page -
On the Sikumi, Grey Whale watching is another reason why you should book your next cruise with us. View our Whale Watching Exursion here.