UIAA Explorers Travel Program

EXPLORERS Alumni Travel Program

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See the World With Fellow Alumni and Friends Travel to one of many fascinating destinations with fellow Alumni Association members through EXPLORERS, the alumni tour program. See our Photo Gallery of previous tours in the links to the right.
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Some whales get in on the celebration, too

Three different Humpback whales in this photo have some fun of their own.


Continuing the journey of Cruising the Inside Passage, we now find ourselves in Juneau, Alaska. On this particular EXPLORERS tour, passengers have the option to chose among a number of additional excursions during our various ports of call. On this particular excursion, travelers have opted to go whale-watching in Auke Bay, just a few miles north and not far from the amazing Mendenhall Glacier.

As the high-speed catamaran takes to the open waters, we see one Humpback whale almost immediately. That's a good sign. Whale-watching requires a lot of patience and a good eye to see the blow of water coming from a surfacing when the whale exhales.

But then we wait, troll along, wait, troll along. Nothing. We decide to go over to where we can see some more wildlife -- this time a whole lot of Stellar sea lions resting along a little stretch of beach on a small island. A few move about, lumbering along a bit. And then some three Dall's porpoises decide to come along and have a bit of fun riding along in the wake of the boat. Their black-and-white markings make them look like cousins of the Orca whale. Very fun, but still longing to find a few more whales.

Then, we soon see not one or two blows off the surface, but several. And then the rounded shapes of a several more and even a fluke or two (that big whale of a tail) break the surface of the water. It's amazing -- since we learn from the on board naturalist that whales tend to be much more solitary. But we count at least 15 separate whales all in a pod swimming about us. By law, the boat is not permitted to go within 100 feet of a whale in the wild. Fortunately, the whales can do what they like.

It was quite a gift to have so many whales visit the group and spend a little time swimming along and around us. At one point, it seemed as though we were surrounded. It was certainly another cause for celebration. Truly magnificent mammals that make you feel quite humble in the world.. Maybe they were the ones on the sight-seeing tour. ...

Next: A visit to Skagway and a celebration of man's engineering ingenuity

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