Whale Watching in Alaska

By Abi King | Inspire Me

Jun 03

 (Abigail King)

Whale Watching in Alaska

Water. In the space called Frederick Sound, the water waits silently. There’s a grey – or even silver – hue to the air and the frosted breath of everyone on board seems to add to the tension, frozen puffs of cloud suspended in the sky.

We hear it again. From somewhere beyond the stillness comes a soft moan, a slow-motion splash and a spray of white foam.

A humpback whale. Then another. Further away to begin with, but then gliding closer and closer. They move with slowness, as though their prehistoric appearance allows them to play with the boundaries of time. Slowly, slowly, slowly, rising into that languid curve, that hump that gives them their name, then slowly, slowly, I can’t hold my breath any more, they slowly submerge. There’s a missing heartbeat before the moment I’ve been watching for arrives…

The tail, that majestic symbol of all the monsters of the deep, rises, pauses, holds, waits, lingers above the water before plunging down again, throwing up a signature of spray.

It’s hard to explain why this moves me so much: one animal, moving as normal. The sight of an earthworm, for example, sliding through mud, wouldn’t fill me with anywhere near this much joy.

Yet sometimes there’s a place for suspending questions and forgetting analysis. And I think that place is Frederick Sound.

Which whale watching photo do you like best?

Two Whales in Frederick Sound, Alaska

Humpback whale spray in Frederick Sound in Alaska

Humpback whale with green Alaskan fields behind image

Humpack whale tail rising out of the water in AlaskaWhale tail silhouette in Frederick Sound, Alaska

How to Go Whale Watching in Alaska

Disclosure: I went whale watching in Frederick Sound as a guest of American Safaric Cruises and Inner Sea Discoveries. The trip also involved kayaking, hiking, walking on glaciers, flightseeing and more. I’m completely free to write bad things about them if I want to – but in this case, there’s nothing to say. I’d highly recommend either cruise for whale watching and more in Alaska.



About the Author

Abigail King is a writer and photographer who swapped a career as a doctor for a life on the road. Now published by Lonely Planet, the BBC, CNN, National Geographic Traveler & more, she feels most at home experimenting here: covering unusual journeys, thoughtful travel and luxury on www.insidethetravellab.com

Angela June 5, 2011

They’re all gorgeous! I would probably vote for the last one :)

jade June 6, 2011

I love what shots with the tail sticking just enough out of the water. Looks like a great tour- I’d love to do it someday.

Andrea June 8, 2011

I think the second one with the spray is my fav…but they are all wonderful! We went whale watching in New Zealand and loved it – have to do another trip sometime =)

Dave and Deb June 8, 2011

I love the close up of the tail just about to breach. It’s beautiful

Sabrina June 8, 2011

I love the pic where you can see all the water shooting up. We did a whale watch tour in Boston a while back and really enjoyed it too. Such beautiful creatures!

Abi King June 10, 2011

Ah…I still can’t decide. I like the tail just coming out of the water – and I love the one with two whales that looks almost black and white. Decisions, decisions!

Sebastian June 10, 2011

I Love all the pictures. These mammals are truly amazing. I had a fantastic time on some whale watching cruises in Australia.

    Abi King June 14, 2011

    I didn’t even realise you could go whale watching in Australia…I definitely need to spend more time there!

Patricia June 10, 2011

The last one has to be my favourite – so characteristic, and the mountain background is beautiful. We went out at dawn on a rib to watch sperm whales, many years ago now but still one of the most memorable experiences of any trip.
Great pictures Abi.

Juno June 14, 2011

My choice is the last one!! :)

Abi King June 14, 2011

Two more votes for the last whale watching pic…pushing it into the lead!

iamthewitch June 22, 2011

AMAZING! love the picture of water shooting out from the whale. Well done!

    Abi King July 4, 2011

    Thanks. Ah, if I could relive those moments…

Bret @ Green Global Travel December 7, 2011

The second to last photo is my fave: love seeing the water dripping off the tail. The two best whale-watching trips I’ve ever been on were in Alaska (the Kenai Fjords cruise) and Hawaii’s Big Island. A friend took me out in his Zodiac-style boat in 20-knot winds, with huge humpbacks breaching less than 50 yards from us. Thanks for bringing back some incredible memories!

    Abi King February 4, 2012

    Oh wow…I would love to see that. Seeing this was incredible enough.

Boat Charters Alaska September 1, 2012

They are all stunning photos, but I would definitely choose the last one! I love the tail rising from the water, but even more so, I love the quality of the sky in the background. Absolutely stunning!

sofie November 2, 2012

I’m going for the last one. It has something mythical and very calming to it.
Whale watching is something I definitely need to do!

Abi King November 13, 2012

I keep changing my mind each time I come back to these…

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