A Whale of a Tail, or, Adventures in Industrial Tourism


WC is in Juneau on vacation, before heading down the Alaska Highway from Fairbanks.1 The first two days in Juneau, there have been four mammoth cruise ships in town, that have disgorged tens of thousands of visitors on the unsuspecting rainforest.

700ChumsOh, wait, that’s a photo of thousands of chum salmon trying to swim up Sheep Creek along Thane Road, south of Juneau. But it will still give you a sense of what’s happening here. Admittedly, the visitors don’t smell quite as bad as a rotting chum salmon, but the density of the crowds at the big attractions in Juneau is pretty comparable.

Five – Count 'Em, Five – Cruise Ships in Gastineau Channel (one is partially obscured); photo from Bishop Brown's Cross, Mount Roberts

Five – Count ‘Em, Five – Cruise Ships in Gastineau Channel (one is partially obscured); photo from Bishop Brown’s Cross, Mount Roberts

Happily, we were able to get out on the water with Laurent Dick and some of his family last night. While the number of whale watching ships was fairly appalling, our guys knew where the whales were and where the worst of the crowds weren’t. The result is some decent whale photos. Let’s ignore the hordes and look at some whales.

Humpback Whale Blow, West of Shelter Island

Humpback Whale Blow, West of Shelter Island

In very good weather, we spent about 5.5 hours (twice the time of a commercial whale watching trip) cruising with folks who knew their stuff and knew how to make a photographer happy. You want closeups? We had exceptionally cooperative whales give us nice closeups.2

Humpback Whale Swimming under the Boat, West of Shelter Island

Humpback Whale Swimming under the Boat, West of Shelter Island

You want flukes? We got flukes.

Humpback Whale Sounding (a deep dive), West of Shelter Island

Humpback Whale Sounding (a deep dive), West of Shelter Island

Multiple whales at once? Check.

Humpback Whale Pair, North of Shelter Island

Humpback Whale Pair, North of Shelter Island

An excellent evening, with lots of good shots in sweet, late light.

Humpback Whale Blow, Hump Island

Humpback Whale Blow, Hump Island

It was hard to say goodbye.

Humpback Whale Sounding

Humpback Whale Sounding

A really wonderful evening, which proves that even when Juneau is infested blessed with ten of thousands of visitors, it is still possible to escape, have a wonderful time and a whale of an adventure.

Twilight, Tee Bay, North of Juneau

Twilight, Tee Bay, North of Juneau


  1. The irony is not lost on WC. He is in Juneau, more than half way from Fairbanks to the Lower 48. He is next going to fly back to Fairbanks, to drive the Alaska Highway. 
  2. Boats are not permitted to approach closer than 100 yards from a whale. The whales, however, are under no such restrictions. We were dead in the water, with the engines off, when this pretty lady joined us. 
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One thought on “A Whale of a Tail, or, Adventures in Industrial Tourism

  1. WC, if you are still in Juneau I would love to say hello. There are many mud puppies in Juneau that admire your work. Yes, it’s been a little heavy on the ships the last 3 days. That’s just part of summer in Juneau!

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