Alaska Cruise
July 2014

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Juneau

Wednesday, July 16
Weather: Partly cloudy, Hi 66

10:00 AMArrive in Juneau
10:30 AM-3:30 PMWhales, Glacier & Rain Forest Trails (5 hr)
3:30-5:30 PMAlaska State Museum (closes at 5:30 PM)
(didn't do this)
5:30-10:00explore Juneau: Capitol building, public library
(didn't visit capitol, only briefly at library)
Mt. Roberts Tramway (1+ hr at top closes at 9 PM)
(~4:30-6 at Mt. Roberts, then back to the ship for dinner)
10:00 PMDepart Juneau

Fitbit stats:
To bed: 11:16 pm, Got up: 8:12 am (8:36 asleep)
Steps: 10,599 (4.97 miles)
Floors: 43

After breakfast at the lido buffet, we met up with our excursion tour group (provided by Gastineau Guiding) and headed off by coach to the harbor where our whale-watching boat awaited us. The tide was out when we left. For comparison, the next photo is from our drive back when the tide was in.


Juneau port

tidal flats (out)

tidal flats (in)

leaving harbor

map
We found the whales around the two islands in the upside down Y -- a pod of humpback whales 'bubble-net' feeding on schools of herring.

I have several videos posted on youtube of the whale pod feeding.
The first two are here: Video #1 and Video #2.
Another whale video here: Video #3.
The underwater mic reveals the song they use to coordinate their efforts. Normally a single male will sing, but our tour guide said it sounded like there was a second whale, likely a juvenile, who seemed to be trying to learn how to do it. (That would be the one who sounds like an angry elephant.) At the end of the song, a longer, ascending tone signals the pod to converge on the ball of fish. They then breach the surface, mouths full of water and fish.
As you can see, the pod was feeding some distance from our boat.
Final whale videos here: Video #4 and Video #5.
In the final video, I expected the whales to breach some distance away, as that is where they had been previously. Boy, was I in for a surprise (and everyone else in our boat, too!) This was the closest our tour guide Koy said she'd ever had them surface. At the very beginning of the video, I actually have my camera pointed in the right direction, but I didn't realize the significance of the foamy area, I think mostly because it was SO CLOSE to the boat. The foam is from the bubbles that the whales blow in a ring around the fish to compact them into a 'bait ball'. If you look closely, you can see fish jumping out of the water right before the whales surface.

On the way back to the harbor, we passed some Stellar sea lions resting on a bouy.

Rainforest path to Mendenhall Glacier.

glacial erratic

mushroom
An "erratic" is a rock carried down from the mountains by a glacier and dropped someplace along the way.

Mendenhall Glacier

A beaver pond on the way back from Mendenhall Glacier.

 

beavers' lodge

Mendenhall

porcupine

porcupine

We were given snacks on our excursion, and when we got back to port, we had a late lunch at the ship buffet. I spent a short time at the public library near the dock trying to access their wifi to upload photos to facebook (but failing miserably). Then we walked over to the Mount Roberts tramway to buy tickets and ride the aerial tram up the mountain (not to be confused with a funicular, which is similar but travels along a rail rather than a suspended cable).

This eagle was injured by a gunshot (unknown if accidental or on purpose) and can no longer fly properly so can't be released. If you look closely, you can see that the right wing is drooped slightly.

These trees are bent by the snow drifts that blow around and pile up during the winters.

There are a number of walking/hiking paths at the top of Mt. Roberts and we spent about an hour and a half up there before returning to the ship for dinner.

 

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