This pod of Humpbacks has been spending considerable time in Hoonah! It never gets old seeing them! Enjoy!
Travelers to Alaska’s Inside Passage are often fortunate enough to get a look at one or more of the region’s many black or brown bears. Bears can usually be seen near salmon streams, and it’s not unusual to spot one or two wandering down the main street of Hoonah during the early morning hours. Visitors to the island are often nervous, however, about the prospect of bear encounters and wonder if there are steps they can take to maximize their personal safety in bear country.
Never Leave Food Items Outdoors
Outdoor cookouts and picnics are popular activities in Southeast Alaska, and the bears know it. Always be sure to pick up leftover food items when the meal is over, and keep in mind that bears have an extremely acute sense of smell. The cooking process also magnifies the scent of food, and there is almost always at least a slight sea breeze blowing in Southeast Alaska that wafts the sweet smells of food being cooked straight into the waiting nostrils of area bears.
Don’t Mess With Mama
One of the most dangerous places in the world is between a mother bear and her cubs. Cubs are born during the months of May and June, and mothers of newborn cubs are more protective than those of older cubs. Even if you believe a bear cub to be abandoned by its mother, do not approach. The mother is likely nearby and will be less than thrilled at any perceived threat toward her young. Other ways of avoiding a run-in with a mama bear include:
Bears have a natural aversion to human company, so avoiding unwanted encounters with them is fairly easy. However, there are bear-viewing stations near salmon spawning grounds that provide safe ways for visitors to get a look at these magnificent creatures.
Whales and bears aren’t the only fascinating animal life to be seen in Alaska’s Inside Passage. The pristine waters of Icy Strait also provide a home for a number of aquatic mammals. The following are four types of marine mammals that you’ll surely see during your trip to Hoonah.
Commonly known as killer whales, orcas are found throughout Alaskan waters. It should be noted that killer whales are actually members of the dolphin family rather than true whales. They travel in pods of up to more than 40 animals each, and are so socially evolved that each pod has its own unique manner of communicating with one another.
These porpoises travel in groups of up to 20 animals and frequently swim right alongside of whale watching vessels and other oceangoing boats. Their black and white markings cause them to resemble much smaller killer whales. These extremely fast swimmers often generate ocean spray that can be seen from long distances.
Harbor seals can be seen on the sandbars, rocks, and shorelines of Icy Strait. Their round eyes and large heads make them easy to identify. Their playful, intelligent nature makes them fun to watch, but they can rival mother bears when it comes to protecting their pups, so bring a zoom lens for your camera and keep a healthy distance if you encounter them while strolling on the beach.
Members of the weasel family, sea otters are renowned for their agility and playfulness. These bright, highly social mammals are often seen tumbling in groups, grooming one another, and swimming and even sleeping on their backs. Their luxuriant fur was so prized by fur traders at one point in Alaska’s history that their numbers seriously declined, but populations in Southeast Alaska have since been restored.
Alaska’s Inside Passage holds many other natural treasures, including large bald eagle colonies, five separate salmon species, an abundance of mysterious and enchanting ravens, and some of the cleanest air and most vibrant sunsets on Earth, particularly in high summer when twilight lasts for several hours.
Zach, one of our crew members, created this compilation of videos and images from Hoonah Travel Adventures’ Whale Watch Tours. Check it out!
Today, the Hoonah Bound had its biannual dry dock inspection! We spent a lot of time disassembling so the US Coast Guard could inspect all the welds and thru hulls.
The Hoonah Bound passed with flying colors! Thank you to USCG Lt. Butler, Lt. Kat, and Senior Inspector Sazon for crawling all around and ensuring the inspected passenger vessels in SE Alaska are kept in top shape. We are looking forward to our annual on the water, under way inspection in a couple weeks.
This means the start of the season is right around the corner!
Dave and Diane Noll took this awesome video of a humpback whale breaching while they toured with Hoonah Travel Adventures in July 2014 near Point Adolphus. Thank you so much to the Nolls for sharing it with us!