Just over three weeks after entering Alaska, we headed to the town of Seward in the Kenai Peninsula with our friend, Joyce. Seward was one of the places we were most looking forward to visiting, as we are avid fans of boating and whale watching. We spent a fabulous day at the Kenai Fjords National Park when we were here on a cruise years ago and saw lots of wildlife and were excited to do it again.
Alaska Day driving day 4 recap:
Road Name: Seward Highway
Road Type: 2-lane
Road Conditions: Excellent, however this much traveled highway is known for its number of accidents. Apparently sometimes people who are in a rush will pass in areas that are not really safe to pass, thus causing accidents.
Miles Today: 146
Driving Time: 3:15
Total Miles in Alaska: 622
Total Miles since entering Canada: 2616
It was a beautiful drive back through the Turnagain Arm, where we stopped to look for beluga whales once again. No luck.
We camped at the Stoney Creek RV Park one of the few parks with full hookups in the area. Read my review here. Our plan for was to go out on one cruise with Joyce, who was with us for four days, and do it again later in the week.
After checking out the boats at the dock and checking on weather, we opted for Saturday’s six-hour cruise with Kenai Fjords Tours.
Soon thereafter, we exited Resurrection Bay, rounded Cape Ailik and crossed over into the Kenai Fjords National Park. This National Park was established in 1980 and the scenery is gorgeous with mountains, glaciers, and beautiful rock formations along the way.
Next a pod of orcas greeted us and swam quite close to the boat. These were resident orcas, which we wrote about last year during our visit to Vancouver Island. They are very social animals and this group was fairly large.
I do like when a boat cruise is flexible and will alter their routing to see wildlife.
Heading back, we stopped at what is called a “haul-out” for sea lions, this is simply a place where they hang out to rest. The Western Alaska sea lion population has declined considerably, is considered endangered and there are studies in place to determine the cause(s).
We easily found the pod as there was another boat nearby as well as lots of seagulls flying above where the whales were feeding. The birds feed on the same types of fish as the humpback whales, so they stay nearby to eat the fish the whales miss.
Then they swim in a circle below the school of fish while blowing air bubbles. These bubbles form a “net” which the fish will not swim through. The birds can see the bubbles and they fly around waiting for the main event.Then the older larger female calls out for the whales to all ascend to the surface. As they ascend, they open their mouths to trap as many fish as possible. Their throat grooves allow their throat to expand so that they can consume the maximum number of fish.
Humpback whales are filter feeders. They push the water out through the baleen plates in their mouth with their two ton tongue, trapping the fish, plankton and other food inside.Once they have swallowed the giant mouthful of food they eventually dive down and begin the process again. It is a fascinating behavior to watch. And to see such a large group of these 40 ton giants all together is a rare treat indeed.
Our captain also captured some of the whales’ calls via a hydrophone that he placed in the water. The whales are so coordinated, soon after the lead females’ call, they all surfaced. Such an impressive display of teamwork.
We truly enjoyed all of the wonderful sights on our boat cruise, all the more so because we were sharing them with a friend.