Wildlife Encounters in Southeast Alaska
By Valerie Mellema, Guest Writer
If you are going to be traveling through the lush corridors and fjords of Southeast Alaska on your next vacation, one of the most thrilling aspects of the adventure will be the wildlife encounters. Trust us! Getting to see some of the world’s most amazing animals in their natural habitat are experiences that will stay with you forever. There are many ways that you can get closer to nature while cruising the glassy waters of Alaska, whether you are hiking, snorkeling, kayaking or simply taking photos from the deck of a small boat. These are places that larger boats simply can’t reach and where you view everything from puffins to otters, bears, and the mighty humpback whale! And yes, you can even tiptoe out on the deck at night while we are nestled into a quiet cove to look at the stars, sip a cocktail or do your own private yoga class on deck.
What Types of Wildlife Can You See in Alaska?
You’re probably wondering what types of animals you may encounter when you are on vacation in Southeast Alaska. Of course, every trip is different, and that's how we like it, but many creatures make this area their home.
You might encounter dolphins, porpoises, and orcas. There are also sea lions and sea otters to keep an eye out for while you're kayaking. The perfect combination: get plenty of fresh air, exercise, and get right down there on the water, closer to the animals. Just make sure not to crowd their space. Otters and seals love to play and it's not uncommon to have them next to your kayak. Our guides can help ensure you get just close enough to enjoy the animals while still being safe, plus they're full of great facts on the life of these little creatures.
Plenty of animals that you encounter stay on land but are no less impressive than the marine animals. The black bear and the coastal brown bear are two of the most impressive creatures that you may see, and of course, you’ll learn about the salmon and plenty of other wildlife in our nightly onboard lounge presentations led by our guides
Of course, you can’t forget all of the birds of Alaska. There are common and pacific loons, harlequin ducks, puffins, and the bald eagle. The birds are just as impressive to watch as the other creatures. Watch a bald eagle dive and pick lunch right out of the water and keep an eye for well-hidden birds perched at the tops of trees along the water. If you're quick you can catch a few snaps. Your new friends onboard will love sharing photos captures and edits from the day!
Looking for more nature? Check out itineraries available to determine what trips will best align with the types of animals you want to see most. Bears, for example, will be most prevalent from around April to late August. Humpback whales are often seen from May through August. And while we may have a late summer season in 2020, we’ll still be able to see some wonderful wildlife in a pristine area after months of no tourism.
A Perfect Trip for Naturalists
Those who love nature and who want to have an experience that is different from the typical beach fare will enjoy heading to Alaska. Not only are you able to see all of the various types of animals, but you also get to enjoy the beautiful landscapes and glaciers when you are hiking or simply watching the lush coastline as you cruise by.
It's always a privilege to take in the wildlife in these remote locations, so here are a few reminders for respectful wildlife viewing:
- Give them plenty of space. Use your binoculars.
- Learn to recognize signs of distress and alarm in the animals, this is especially true for bears.
- Respect and stay away from nesting, denning, calving and rookeries.
- Leave sick or entangled animals alone. Notify the correct officials.
- Let them eat their natural food, in other words, don't feed them.
- Tread lightly, we adhere to a leave-no-trace travel policy.
- Share your experience and photos!
Why not look at the options and choose one that suits your needs and budget the best? Start thinking about the gear you need to pack and make doubly sure that you have plenty of batteries and memory cards for your cameras.