Seeing and hearing a whale spout is a thrilling experience and one that most people never forget. Many of our guests at Afognak Wilderness Lodge choose to go on whale watching expeditions, as they’re truly a sight to behold. The summer season is one of the best times to catch the massive mammals, starting in June and continuing for the entire summer season.
Like all the whales that can be seen in Kodiak waters, Gray whales are a type of baleen whale, meaning that they filter foods from the water through bristly structures in their mouths. These whales have gray patches and white mottling on their dark skin and can grow up to 49 feet in length and weigh more than 40 tons.
Also known as Finbacks, Fin whales are the second-largest animal after the blue whale. Because fin whales have distinct ridges along their backs behind the dorsal fins, these whales are also called Razorbacks. FIn whales can grow up to 66 feet in length and weigh over 55 tons.
Minke whales which are also called Little Piked whales, can grow to more than 30 feet in length and weigh over seven tons. These black and white whales have long dorsal fins and ridges around their backs near their tails.
Sei whales can reach speeds up to 35 miles per hour, making them the fastest whales in the water. These whales, which can grow to lengths of 60 feet and weigh up to 20 tons, have long, sleek bodies which are dark bluish-gray to black in color and pale underneath.
Humpback whales can weigh up to 40 tons and be over 60 feet long. Known for their moans, howls, cries and other noises, the sounds made by these whales have long been studied in an attempt to decipher their meaning. It is thought that humpbacks sing to communicate with each other and to attract potential mates. Humpback whales are gray to black on top, with white undersides.
When Can I See All These Different Whales?
When whales begin migrating to northern waters in April, Gray whales can often be spotted around Kodiak Island. Then when June arrives, people can see Sei, Humpback, Minke, and Fin whales. There are many whale watching charter boat tours available in the Kodiak area. Whales can also be seen from Kodiak Island beaches and from high cliffs. Whales are often spotted swimming right under the cliffs along the Chiniak Highway, giving people amazing overhead views of these majestic animals.
Tips for First-Time Whale Watchers
Whale watching is a thrilling activity that requires a little planning. If you’re planning on watching whales and it will be your first time, follow these tips to make sure you get the most out of your experience:
- Take along your best camera equipment and a pair of binoculars
- Dress for the weather and remember it’s often much cooler on and near the water
- Use sunscreen and sunglasses for protection from the glare of the ocean
- Be patient & hope for the best!
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