One of the main reasons why Alaska and its Inner Passage should be on everyone’s cruising bucket-list is its spectacular wildlife. A native wonderland of many beautiful creatures, this is one destination where you need to keep your binoculars and camera at the ready. Here’s 10 of the animals you can spot while cruising North American waters.
Two of the best waters to spot this dramatic sea mammal are the Johnstone Strait and the Lynn Canal. Travelling in family groups called pods, they swim close to the surface and boast a tall dorsal fin that begs to be noticed.
2. Humpback whales
Another type of whale you’ll have a high chance of spotting is the famous humpback whale. The summer is the best time to keep your eyes open for them, with the Inside Passage being a popular spot for them to surface.
When you step off the ship, you’ll likely come across either the brown or black bear while on an excursion. In fact, Alaska boasts about 98% of the U.S. brown bear population. There are plenty of places to find them in Alaska – such as Katmai National Park and Preserve, Admiralty Island and Denali National Park.
4. Bald Eagle
The national bird and national animal of the United States of America, Southeast Alaska is one of the best places to spot this majestic bird species. The Chilkat Valley in particular is an amazing spot to catch of a glimpse: between 200 and 400 eagles (and more than 80 eagle nests) have been found in the reserve.
5. Dall Sheep
This unique species of sheep is native to Alaska and western Canada, but you’ll definitely need to venture in from the coast to spot them. With a preference for subarctic mountain ranges, excursions that involve hiking or mountain climbing are more likely assure sightings.
We don’t want to guarantee that you’ll spot any of the creatures on the list, but we will say that the moose is a very likely possibility. Not particularly shy creatures, they like to wander into towns and villages – including the capital Anchorage.
7. Mountain Goat
As the name suggests, you’ll have to find yourself up a mountain in order to get close to these shaggy-looking creatures. However they do like to play on coastal cliffs so there’s a chance you’ll see them from your cruise liner (remember your binoculars).
This distinctive bird species can be found along the southern Alaskan coast. Cruisers will have the highest chance of spotting them between May and September when they nest in notches along the rocky coast. If puffins are high on your wildlife watch list, take a trip into the rocky bays for your highest chances.
9. Sea Otters
These entertaining and friendly sea creatures can be found in the shallow coastal waters in southeast Alaska. The state is described as the heartland of the sea otter range, so sightings are common.
10. Grey wolves
Though not impossible, you’ll need to keep your eyes peeled for this special creature – with morning and night being the most likely. But even if you don’t see one prowling the Alaskan landscape, you’ll might still be treated to the sounds of its famous howl.