Whale Watching, Juneau, Alaska, USA

A humpback whale dives underwater in front of a whale watching boat in the Pacific Ocean off Juneau, Alaska, USA; note that the shape of the fluke is unique to each whale, like human fin

A humpback whale dives underwater in front of a whale watching boat in the Pacific Ocean off Juneau, Alaska, USA; note that the shape of the fluke is unique to each whale, like human fingerprints, and are used to identify individual whales

 

In Juneau, Alaska, a group of us chartered a whale watching boat for the afternoon to head out into the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Juneau to look for the humpback whales that eat all summer in the cold waters full of salmon, krill (small shrimp) and herring, before migrating back to their mating grounds in Hawaii (90% of the whales around Juneau) or Mexico (10% of the whales).  It was a cool, rainy day that was overcast, misty and damp.  Not the most pleasant weather, but the whales put on their swimming and eating show for us, none-the-less…

We found a pod of humpback whales and were able (by law) to stay a couple of hundred yards (meters) away and watch for 30 minutes.  In the middle of our watch, we were quite fortunate in observing the rare bubble-net feeding where a group (here about a dozen) of humpback whales work together to create a net of bubbles that “traps” the fishes.  Collectively the fishes then rise to the surface and swallow literally tons of sea water and fishes (filtering out the water with their unique baleen plates).  It’s quite a spectacle to watch (see photographs, below).  Our guide told us that in three months of sailing daily (one or two trips per day), this was only his seventh observation this season of bubble-net feeding.  We left feeling quite lucky!

 

One humpback whale exhausts water that was ingested -- while feeding on small fish -- out of the blowhole, as another dives underwater with just his-her fluke visible; Pacific Ocean, Jun

One humpback whale exhausts water that was ingested — while feeding on small fishes — out of the blowhole, as another dives underwater with just his/her fluke visible; Pacific Ocean, Juneau, Alaska, USA

 

Water spouting from blowholes of a pod of humpback whales, Pacific Ocean, Juneau, Alaska, USA

Water spouting from blowholes of a pod of humpback whales, Pacific Ocean, Juneau, Alaska, USA

 

After blowing out the water from feeding through the blowhole, each humpback whale will dive underwater, with the fluke being the last visible sign of the mammal for around 15 minutes; P

After blowing out the water from feeding through the blowhole, each humpback whale will dive underwater, with the fluke being the last visible sign of the mammal for around 15 minutes; Pacific Ocean, Juneau, Alaska, USA

 

A humpback whale fluke, Pacific Ocean, Juneau, Alaska, USA

A humpback whale fluke, Pacific Ocean, Juneau, Alaska, USA

 

The rare sight of a pod of humpback whales breaking the surface of the water as they gulp massive amounts of water and fish in their unique bubble-net feeding routine; Pacific Ocean, Jun

The rare sight of a pod of humpback whales breaking the surface of the water as they gulp massive amounts of water and fishes in their unique bubble-net feeding routine; Pacific Ocean, Juneau, Alaska, USA; note that one whale’s mouth is open with water pouring out, filtered by its baleen plates

 

Bubble-net feeding is a unique and complex feeding behavior engaged in by humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae)…  It is one of the few surface feeding behaviors that humpback whales are known to engage in.  This type of feeding is often done in groups.  The group size can range from a minimum of two or three whales participating and up to sixty at one time. Whales can also perform a similar method of surface feeding called lunge feeding but is done solo.

“Humpback whales are migratory and only eat during half the year.  They will typically spend the summer months (May through September) in feeding grounds with cooler waters that they return to every year.   They have been documented feeding in areas such as Southeast Alaska and off the coast of Antarctica.  During the other half of the year humpbacks will spend time in their breeding grounds where they do not eat at all.  During their feeding season humpback whales will actively feed for up to twenty-two hours a day.  They do this in order to have enough fat reserves stored in their bodies to live off of during their breeding season.

“Bubble-net feeding is a cooperative feeding method used by groups of humpback whales.  This behavior is not instinctual, it is learned.  Not every population of humpbacks know how to bubble net feed according to some studies.  After observing different populations it is apparent which whales know how to create a bubble net and which do not.  They have to learn the method in order to be successful.  Humpback whales use vocalizations to communicate to one another in order to effectively and efficiently execute the bubble net in order for them all to feed.  As the group circles a school of small fish such as salmon, krill [small shrimp] or herring they use a team effort to disorient and corral the fish into a net of bubbles.  One whale will typically begin to exhale out of their blowhole beneath the surface at the school of fish to begin the process.  More whales will also start to blow bubbles while continuing to circle their prey.  They corral the fish into a tight circle while creating a net of bubbles to surround the fish and keep them from escaping.  The size of the net created can range from three to thirty meters in diameter.  One whale will sound a feeding call, at which point all whales simultaneously swim upwards with mouths open to feed on the trapped fish.   As the whales swim up to the surface to feed they can hold up to 15,000 gallons of sea water as they use their baleen plates to strain the water to get the maximum amount of fish they need.   Humpback whales have 14 to 35 throat grooves that run from the top of the chin all the way down to the navel.  These grooves allow the mouth to expand.  When they swallow they blow the sea water out from their blowhole as they ingest the fish.  The fish that they ingest are also a source of hydration for them.  Bubble netting is an advanced and necessary feeding method developed by humpback whales to feed multiple mouths at one time.” — Wikipedia

 

This pod of humpback whales fell back to the surface of the ocean after jumping up to eat in bubble-net feeding, with several large white dorsal fins visible; Pacific Ocean, Juneau, Alas

This pod of humpback whales fell back to the surface of the ocean after jumping up to eat in bubble-net feeding, with several large white dorsal fins visible; Pacific Ocean, Juneau, Alaska, USA

 

The four white dorsal fins belong to four separate humpback whales that are quite close to one another as they finish their bubble-net feeding routine; Pacific Ocean, Juneau, Alaska, USA

The four white dorsal fins belong to four separate humpback whales that are quite close to one another as they finish their bubble-net feeding routine; Pacific Ocean, Juneau, Alaska, USA

 

Note that the birds arrived as soon as they witnessed the humpback whales pod_s bubble-net feeding, as they know that there will be a lot of fish on the surface of the water for them t

Note that the birds arrived as soon as they witnessed the humpback whales pod’s bubble-net feeding, as they know that there will be a lot of fishes on the surface of the water for them to swoop down and take; Pacific Ocean, Juneau, Alaska, USA

 

Humpback whales pas-de-deux (a dance or figure for two performers), part I; Pacific Ocean, Juneau, Alaska, USA

Humpback whales pas de deux (a dance or figure for two performers), part I; Pacific Ocean, Juneau, Alaska, US

 

Humpback whales pas-de-deux, part II; Pacific Ocean, Juneau, Alaska, USA

Humpback whales pas de deux, part II; Pacific Ocean, Juneau, Alaska, USA

The humpback whales that we observed were swimming in the Pacific Ocean quite close to shore; Juneau, Alaska, USA

The humpback whales that we observed were swimming in the Pacific Ocean quite close to shore; Juneau, Alaska, USA

 

These humpback whales, despite their gigantic size and weight, impressed us with their delicate “dancing” on the surface and their diving; Pacific Ocean, Juneau, Alaska, US

These humpback whales, despite their gigantic size and weight, impressed us with their delicate “dancing” on the surface and their diving; Pacific Ocean, Juneau, Alaska, US

 

Humpback Whales of Alaska

 

“The humpback whale got its name due to the fact that the dorsal fin sits on a big hump on the whales back which is visible when the whale arches its back and dives.

 

“Humpback whales can be found in the Bering Sea, Aleutian Islands, Prince William Sound, Glacier Bay and throughout the Inside Passage of South East Alaska in the summer.  In the winter they move south to the Banderas Bay in Mexico, Baja California and the Hawaiian islands.  They spend the spring, summer and fall months in the cooler waters around Alaska and head for warmer waters in the winter months.  Researchers believe that there may be resident populations in the southeastern part of the state.

 

“Their diet consists of krill and many different kinds of fish including chovies, sardines, herring and capelin.  They gather their food by blowing a net of bubbles to surround and confuse their prey, then with jaws open swim through the center of the air ring to scoop up their food.  Baleen, finger like material, hangs down in the whale’s mouth to filter the food from the water.  They eat one to one and a half tons of food a day.  During winter months they don’t feed but live off fat reserves in their blubber.

 

“They are easily identified by the distinct hump in front of their dorsal fin.  They have the largest scalloped, winglike flippers of any whale species.  They are mostly black with a white area on their throat.  The flippers are all white beneath and partly white above.  They are unusually susceptible to parasites resulting in there being up to a half a ton of barnacles on a single whale.

 

“Humpbacks can be found in groups of four to five but generally travel and feed individually.  They are relatively slow swimmers with speeds up to 16 miles per hour with and average speed of 2-9 miles per hour.  In the summer they dive for 3-5 minutes but in the winter breeding grounds can dive for 15-30 minutes.

 

“Humpback whales breech, throwing themselves completely out of the water.  You may also see them swimming on their back with both flippers in the air.  They are known for tail lobbing, raising its huge fluke out of the water and slapping it on the water surface.  Researchers believe this is a form of communication as the slaps can be heard for long distances underwater.

Humpback whales have the most diverse range of sounds for any whale or animal in the world. Sounds include moans, shrieks and grunts.  Males sing for 10-20 minutes to attract a mate, repeating the sequence for hours during winter breeding months.  Their feeding song is high-pitched which stuns fish causing them to stop swimming long enough for the humpback to gobble them up.

 

“The humpback whales’ main predator is the killer whale.  Commercial whalers were allowed to hunt humpbacks into the 20th century.  Today as whales live so close to the coastlines they are often hurt by pollution, collision with boats and getting tangled in fishing nets.  But this is why new rules have been created to protect the mammals of our oceans.  You will find that tour boats must maintain a safe viewing distance to protect the whales.” – www.whale-watching-alaska.com

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2017 by Richard C. Edwards. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

 

Tracy Arm Fjord, Juneau, Alaska, USA

Our ship sailed fairly far up Tracy Arm Fjord, Juneau, Alaska, USA, before we stopped and lowered Zodiac inflatable boats for an opportunity to cruise the fjord and explore the icebergs,

Our ship sailed fairly far up Tracy Arm Fjord, Juneau, Alaska, USA, before we stopped and lowered Zodiac inflatable boats for an opportunity to cruise the fjord and explore the icebergs, waterfalls and scenic vistas

 

“Tracy Arm is a fjord in Alaska near Juneau (outlet at 57° 46′ 40″ N 133° 37′ 0″ W).  It is named after the Secretary of the Navy Nenjamin Franklin Tracy.  It is located about 45 miles (72 km) south of Juneau and 70 miles (110 km) north of Petersburg, Alaska, off of Hoklham Bay and adjacent to Stephens Passage within the Tongass National Forest.” — Wikipedia

 

These icebergs, from the Sawyer Glacier at the end of Tracy Arm Fjord, Juneau, Alaska, USA, were “carved” by the rain, wind and water

These icebergs, from the Sawyer Glacier at the end of Tracy Arm Fjord, Juneau, Alaska, were “carved” by the rain, wind and water

 

The walls of Tracy Arm Fjord, Juneau, Alaska, are quite tall and many sections of the fjord are quite narrow

The walls of Tracy Arm Fjord, Juneau, Alaska, are quite tall and many sections of the fjord are quite narrow

 

In the summer there is quite a bit of water runoff from the melting snow in the mountains, resulting in beautiful waterfalls, Tracy Arm Fjord, Juneau, Alaska

In the summer there is quite a bit of water runoff from the melting snow in the mountains, resulting in beautiful waterfalls, Tracy Arm Fjord, Juneau, Alaska

 

A close up of a waterfall in Tracy Arm Fjord, Juneau, Alaska

A close up of a waterfall in Tracy Arm Fjord, Juneau, Alaska

 

This iceberg looks like a sculptor was on site creating a smaller ice version of the mountain behind it, Tracy Arm Fjord, Juneau, Alaska

This iceberg looks like a sculptor was on site creating a smaller ice version of the mountain behind it, Tracy Arm Fjord, Juneau, Alaska

 

Our ship, almost hiding behind a large iceberg floating in Tracy Arm Fjord, Juneau, Alaska

Our ship, almost hiding behind a large iceberg floating in Tracy Arm Fjord, Juneau, Alaska

 

The blue color of the iceberg is natural, a result of the physics of light where the red and green rays of light are trapped in the ice and the blue light is reflected back to the viewer

The blue color of the iceberg is natural, a result of the physics of light where the red and green rays of light are trapped in the ice and the blue light is reflected back to the viewer, Tracy Arm Fjord, Juneau, Alaska

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2017 by Richard C. Edwards. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Wrangell, Alaska, USA

Early morning sea fog blanketed the harbor and waterside streets of Wrangell, Alaska, USA

Early morning sea fog blanketed the harbor and waterside streets of Wrangell, Alaska, USA

 

One of the oldest non-native settlements in Alaska, the old fashioned town of Wrangell was originally home to a good-sized village of Tlingit natives.  The area attracted Russian fur traders in the early 1800s, followed by the British-owned Hudson Bay Company in 1840.  Ultimately, the town would fly the American flag following the purchase of Alaska by the U.S. in 1867.  Today, Wrangell is slowly reinventing itself as an ecotourism destination.  We learned at dinner in town that the locals refused to go along with a proposal from two major cruise line companies to have the cruise companies buy up and then operate all the stores in town (as they had done successfully in Ketchikan and another Alaskan town on the Inside Passage).  As a consequence, those two cruise lines no longer stop in Wrangell, although Oceania and smaller excursion ships do visit weekly (and daily) in season.  To this day, there are no Starbucks, McDonalds, etc. (major US food chain restaurants) in Wrangell!  Congratulations to the citizens of Wrangell for their independence and embrace of ecotourism.  The town’s history and culture are valued as well, as witnessed by the Wrangell Museum at the Nolan Center, Petroglyph Beach State Historic Park and the Tlingit clan house and totem collection on Chief Shakes Island.

 

At the tender pier in Wrangell, Alaska, the Stikine Inn and Restaurant emerged from the fog enveloping the harbor; we had dinner in their casual restaurant with good American-style food

At the tender pier in Wrangell, Alaska, the Stikine Inn and Restaurant emerged from the fog enveloping the harbor; we had dinner in their casual restaurant with good American-style food served in very generous portions

 

Near the pier, this carved bear sported a “Paddington Bear” yellow hat, Wrangell, Alaska, USA

Near the pier, this carved bear sported a “Paddington Bear”-style yellow hat, Wrangell, Alaska, USA

 

St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church, established in 19879, was the first Parish Church in Alaska; Wrangell, Alaska, USA; the beautiful wooden church is very well maintained and beloved by t

St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church, established in 19879, was the first Parish Church in Alaska; Wrangell, Alaska, USA; the beautiful wooden church is very well maintained and beloved by the parishioners we met in town

 

As we climbed the hills of Wrangell, Alaska, we looked back and discovered that our ship had been nearly “swallowed up” by the dense sea fog in the harbor

As we climbed the hills of Wrangell, Alaska, we looked back and discovered that our ship had been nearly “swallowed up” by the dense sea fog in the harbor

 

The woods on the Mt. Dewey trail that climbs 0.4 miles (0.64 kilometers) and 250 feet (76 meters), Wrangell, Alaska, USA; our hike was very refreshing and gave us great views from the pl

The woods on the Mt. Dewey trail that climbs 0.4 miles (0.64 kilometers) and 250 feet (76 meters), Wrangell, Alaska, USA; our hike was very refreshing and gave us great views from the platform at the top of the mountain

 

With two of our grandchildren “in tow” with their dad, we climbed up the streets of Wrangell to the Mt. Dewey Trailhead.  The trail was climbed in 1879 by conservationist, naturalist, explorer and writer John Muir (1838 – 1914), most famous for his explorations in, writings about and promotion of Yosemite (now a National Park) in California, USA.  Note that Muir spent two summer/fall seasons in Alaska and Muir Glacier is named in his honor.  The trail quickly transitioned from rock steps to a raised boardwalk of wood.  The Mt. Dewey trail winds around the base of Mt. Dewey, offering great views of the town and harbors as the trail switchbacks up to the top.  We were rewarded at the top with an observation deck that overlooks the town of Wrangell.

 

Our four year-old grandson made it to the top of the Mt. Dewey trail, unassisted, and celebrated on the last steps of the raised boardwalk made of wood, Wrangell, Alaska, USA

Our four year-old grandson made it to the top of the Mt. Dewey trail, unassisted, and celebrated on the last steps of the raised boardwalk made of wood, Wrangell, Alaska, USA

 

Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees.  The winds blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.” – John Muir, Our National Parks, 1901.

 

As we descended through the forest, we found that the fog had lifted and we were rewarded with a beautiful view of our ship in the harbor, Wrangell, Alaska, USA

As we descended through the forest, we found that the fog had lifted and we were rewarded with a beautiful view of our ship in the harbor, Wrangell, Alaska, USA

 

The locals note that John Muir visited Wrangell in 1879 during his travels in Alaska.  He hiked Mt. Dewey during a rainstorm and lit a campfire to warm himself.  Wrangell townspeople saw only the strange glow the fire cast on the surrounding clouds.  Muir later returned to town and talked about “one of the best campfires that he had every enjoyed,” explaining the unusual light.  Muir remains known as “The Father of Our National Park System [in the USA]” due to his involvement in the establishment of Yosemite, Sequoia, Mt. Rainier, Petrified Forest and Grand Canyon National Parks.  Muir also helped found the Sierra Club with the following mission: Enjoy, Explore, and Protect the Planet.

 

In contrast with the first photograph of this blog post, here we could finally see the industrial harbor and fish processing plants at the south end of the town of Wrangell, Alaska, USA

In contrast with the first photograph of this blog post, here we could finally see the industrial harbor and fish processing plants at the south end of the town of Wrangell, Alaska, USA

 

Commercially important fish species in Wrangell, Alaska

Commercially important fish species in Wrangell, Alaska

 

The home of “Wolf and Raven Silks”, Wrangell, Alaska, USA

The home of “Wolf and Raven Silks”, Wrangell, Alaska, USA

 

The fishing and recreational harbor of Wrangell, Alaska, USA

The fishing and recreational harbor of Wrangell, Alaska, USA, viewed from Chief Shakes Island

 

A Tlingit decoration at the front of the tribal house on Chief Shakes Island, Wrangell, Alaska; behind the tribal house are preserved (lying down, under shelters) several old Tlingit tot

A Tlingit decoration at the front of the tribal house on Chief Shakes Island, Wrangell, Alaska; behind the tribal house are preserved (lying down, under shelters) several old Tlingit totem poles that showcase traditional Tlingit designs and carving

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2017 by Richard C. Edwards. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Misty Fjords National Monument, Ketchikan, Alaska, USA

This image from our late afternoon Zodiac cruise around New Eddystone, Misty Fjords, Ketchikan, Alaska, USA, shows that the fjord lives up to its name – it was lightly raining, “mist

This image from our late afternoon Zodiac cruise around New Eddystone, Misty Fjords, Ketchikan, Alaska, USA, shows that the fjord lives up to its name – it was lightly raining, “misty” and cool

 

Following our visit to Ketchikan, Alaska, we spent the next day on our ship cruising through Misty Fjords (National Monument) with two stops – mid-day and late afternoon – to lower our Zodiac inflatable 20 foot / 6 meter boats for “cruising” along the fjords and observing the spectacular geography, flora and fauna.  “The spectacular Misty Fiords National Monument, lying just 22 miles east of Ketchikan, is a natural mosaic of sea cliffs, steep fjords and rock walls jutting 3,000 feet / 914 meters straight out of the ocean.  Taking its name from the almost constant precipitation characteristic of the area, the monument is covered with thick rain forests that grow on nearly vertical slopes from sea level to mountaintops.  Dramatic waterfalls plunge into the salt water through narrow clefts or course over great rounded granite shoulders fed by lakes and streams that absorb the rainfall of more than 150 inches annually.” – www.travelalaska.com

 

Mid-day Zodiac cruise around Smeaton Bay, Misty Fjords, Ketchikan, Alaska, USA, #1 – our ship is pictured with “steam” on to hold its position, as the fjord was too deep to drop an

Mid-day Zodiac cruise around Smeaton Bay, Misty Fjords, Ketchikan, Alaska, USA, #1 – our ship is pictured with “steam” on to hold its position, as the fjord was too deep to drop an anchor

 

Mid-day Zodiac cruise around Smeaton Bay, Misty Fjords, Ketchikan, Alaska, USA, #2

Mid-day Zodiac cruise around Smeaton Bay, Misty Fjords, Ketchikan, Alaska, USA, #2

 

Mid-day Zodiac cruise around Smeaton Bay, Misty Fjords, Ketchikan, Alaska, USA, #3

Mid-day Zodiac cruise around Smeaton Bay, Misty Fjords, Ketchikan, Alaska, USA, #3

 

“Misty Fjords National Monument is a national monument and wilderness area administered by the U.S. Forest Service as part of the Tongass National Forest.  Misty Fiords is … along the Inside Passage coast in extreme southeastern Alaska, comprising 2,294,343 acres (928,488 ha) of Tongass National Forest in Alaska’s Panhandle…  John Muir compared the area with Yosemite Valley for its similar geology and glacial morphology.   Light-colored granite, about 50 to 70 million years old (Eocene Epoch to Cretaceous Period) has been sculpted by glaciers that gouged deep U-shaped troughs throughout the monument.  Many of the glacial valleys are filled with sea water and are called “canals”, but they are not man-made in any way; the walls of these valleys are near-vertical and often rise 2,000 to 3,000 feet (600 to 900 m) above sea level, and drop 1,000 feet (300 m) below it…  Western hemlock, Sitka spruce and western red cedar dominate the prolific rainforest vegetation; wildlife in abundance includes both grizzly and black bears, many species of salmon, whales, mountain goats and deer.” – Wikipedia

On our cruising through the fjords we also caught sight of some bald eagles, many birds, and lots of seals (gingerly poking their head out of the water long enough to spot us and then dive back underwater).

 

Mid-day Zodiac cruise around Smeaton Bay, Misty Fjords, Ketchikan, Alaska, USA, #4

Mid-day Zodiac cruise around Smeaton Bay, Misty Fjords, Ketchikan, Alaska, USA, #4

 

Mid-day Zodiac cruise around Smeaton Bay, Misty Fjords, Ketchikan, Alaska, USA, #5

Mid-day Zodiac cruise around Smeaton Bay, Misty Fjords, Ketchikan, Alaska, USA, #5

 

Mid-day Zodiac cruise around Smeaton Bay, Misty Fjords, Ketchikan, Alaska, USA, #6

Mid-day Zodiac cruise around Smeaton Bay, Misty Fjords, Ketchikan, Alaska, USA, #6

 

Late afternoon Zodiac cruise around New Eddystone, Misty Fjords, Ketchikan, Alaska, USA, #2

Late afternoon Zodiac cruise around New Eddystone, Misty Fjords, Ketchikan, Alaska, USA, #2

 

Late afternoon Zodiac cruise around New Eddystone, Misty Fjords, Ketchikan, Alaska, USA, #3

Late afternoon Zodiac cruise around New Eddystone, Misty Fjords, Ketchikan, Alaska, USA, #3

 

Late afternoon Zodiac cruise around New Eddystone, Misty Fjords, Ketchikan, Alaska, USA, #4

Late afternoon Zodiac cruise around New Eddystone, Misty Fjords, Ketchikan, Alaska, USA, #4

 

Late afternoon Zodiac cruise around New Eddystone, Misty Fjords, Ketchikan, Alaska, USA, #5

Late afternoon Zodiac cruise around New Eddystone, Misty Fjords, Ketchikan, Alaska, USA, #5

 

Late afternoon Zodiac cruise around New Eddystone, Misty Fjords, Ketchikan, Alaska, USA, #6

Late afternoon Zodiac cruise around New Eddystone, Misty Fjords, Ketchikan, Alaska, USA, #6

 

Late afternoon Zodiac cruise around New Eddystone, Misty Fjords, Ketchikan, Alaska, USA, #7

Late afternoon Zodiac cruise around New Eddystone, Misty Fjords, Ketchikan, Alaska, USA, #7; this image reminds us a lot of Milford Sound, New Zealand

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2017 by Richard C. Edwards. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Ketchikan, Alaska, USA

Sailing north through the “Inside Passage” from Vancouver, the island city of Ketchikan, Alaska, USA, is the first city that ships encounter and stop at – hence it_s nickname as

Sailing north through the “Inside Passage” from Vancouver, the island city of Ketchikan, Alaska, USA, is the first city that ships encounter and stop at – hence it’s nickname as “Alaska’s First City” and, from it’s location in the midst of abundant wild salmon and very successful fishing and processing industries, “The Salmon Capital of the World”

 

“Ketchikan is an Alaskan city facing the Inside Passage, a popular cruise route along the state’s southeastern coast.  It is known for its many Native American totem poles, on display throughout town [the largest display in Alaska].  Nearby Misty Fiords National Monument is a glacier-carved wilderness featuring snowcapped mountains, waterfalls and salmon spawning streams.  It’s also home to rich wildlife including black bears, wolves and bald eagles… Ketchikan is named after Ketchikan Creek, which flows through the town, emptying into the Tongass Narrows a short distance southeast of its downtown.  ‘Ketchikan’ comes from the Tlingit name for the creek, Kitschk-hin, the meaning of which is unclear.  It may mean ‘the river belonging to Kitschk’; other accounts claim it means ‘Thundering Wings of an Eagle’.” — Wikipedia

 

There are only two forms of transportation to reach Ketchikan, Alaska, USA – boats and seaplanes – hence the city has several marinas full of pleasure boats, along with downtown pier

There are only two forms of transportation to reach Ketchikan, Alaska, USA – boats and seaplanes – hence the city has several marinas full of pleasure boats, along with downtown piers to accommodate several large cruise ships sailing in for typically a one-day visit

 

In the center of downtown Ketchikan, Alaska, USA, is a beautiful carved bald eagle with spread wings, bringing to life one translation of the word “Ketchikan” -- Thundering Wings of

In the center of downtown Ketchikan, Alaska, USA, is a beautiful carved bald eagle [there are many wild bald eagles in and around the city; see photograph, below] with spread wings, bringing to life one translation of the word “Ketchikan” — Thundering Wings of an Eagle

Ketchikan is around Alaska’s tenth largest city with a population of just over 8,000 – the city of Anchorage, with nearly 40% of the state’s population, has approximately 300,000 residents, whereas Juneau, the capital and second largest city, has a population of only 33,000.  Ketchikan is known as a rainy city, with rain occurring over 300 days a year.  According to Wikipedia, “The wettest year was 1949 with 202.55 inches (5,145 mm) and the driest year was 1995 with 88.45 inches (2,247 mm).”  Our visit was typical – the first day was sunny and relatively warm (63 degrees F / 18 degrees C) and the next day was rainy, damp and felt much cooler at 58 degrees F / 15 degrees C.

 

City Hall is in the center of downtown, set amidst shops and restaurants, Ketchikan, Alaska, USA

City Hall is in the center of downtown, set amidst shops and restaurants, Ketchikan, Alaska, USA

 

This Celebrity cruise ship, like most of those sailing through the Inside Passage and calling on Ketchikan, Alaska, USA, dwarfs the downtown shops along the pier; its 3,000 passengers an

This Celebrity cruise ship, like most of those sailing through the Inside Passage and calling on Ketchikan, Alaska, USA, dwarfs the downtown shops along the pier; its 3,000 passengers and crew are equal to nearly 40% of the city’s population!

 

Fog Woman at the lower portion of the Chief Johnson Totem Pole is topped by Raven (replica totem pole raised in 1989), Ketchikan, Alaska, USA

Fog Woman at the lower portion of the Chief Johnson Totem Pole is topped by Raven (replica totem pole raised in 1989), Ketchikan, Alaska, USA

 

Totem poles are carved to honor deceased ancestors, record history, social events and oral tradition.  They were never worshiped as religious objects.  The Chief Johnson Totem Pole was carved by Israel Shotridge and raised in 1989, a replica of the Chief Johnson, or Kajuk, Totem Pole raised in this general location in 1901 for the Ganaxadi Tlinghit of the Raven moiety of the Tanta Kwan (Tongrass) group.  The original memorial pole stood until 1982. Except for Jajuk atop the pole, the figures symbolize a single story about Raven.  Fog Woman is identified with the summer salmon run when fog lies at the mouth of streams.  She produces all salmon and causes them to return to the creeks of their birth.

 

Creek Street_s buildings date back to the late 19th century when the street was built atop poles driven into the bank of Ketchikan Creek, Ketchikan, Alaska, USA; the neighborhood is kn

Creek Street’s buildings date back to the late 19th century when the street was built atop poles driven into the bank of Ketchikan Creek, Ketchikan, Alaska, USA; the neighborhood is known as “Creekside” (home to many brothels in the 20th century)

 

Dolly bought this house in 1919 and was still living there in the early 1970s; she was the last of the former ladies of the line to remain in residence on the creek until her death, whic

Dolly bought this house in 1919 and was still living there, alone, in the early 1970s; she was the last of the former ladies of the line to remain in residence on the creek until her death, which was 20 years after the red-light district was finally closed for good in 1954, Ketchikan, Alaska, USA

 

“Dolly Arthur, nee Thelma Copeland of rural Idaho mining country, was a Ketchikan resident from 1919 until her death in July 1975.  She is probably Ketchikan’s most famous person today… Dolly said her attraction for men was one of her best traits. ‘I just liked men and they liked me, too!’  Her house on Creek Street is now a museum visited by thousands of tourists every summer.  In her lifetime, however, there was nothing much to distinguish it from other small houses of ill repute along the boardwalk.  There was always a temporary look to those little rain-scoured houses tottering atop piling, whose residents used the cleansing tides to serve as sewer, plus bottle (and occasionally body) disposal.  Dolly’s house, however, was not only her business but also her longtime home.  Her claim to present fame was simply because of the more than 50 years she spent on Creek Street.  She bought the house in 1919 and was still living there, alone, in the early ’70s.  She became the last of the former ladies of the line to remain in residence on the creek until her death, which was 20 years after the red-light district was finally closed for good in 1954.  Dolly was not a whore, and would be horrified to be called that.  Dolly called herself a ‘sporting woman,’ a distinction that was important to her.  More than once she said, ‘I never could stand a whore!’  She thought they were tasteless and crude.  She considered herself of a higher class.  And while most of the girls worked and lived in pairs in the small creekside houses, Dolly always worked alone – except for her first year in Ketchikan when she worked at Black Mary’s Star dance hall.  And there were, of course, the postwar years when her true love, Lefty, shared her home, bed and board, but that was at her convenience and business schedule and between the couple’s zesty spats.” – www.sitnews.org

 

The sign on the side of Dolly_s House explains Dolly_s business, Ketchikan, Alaska, USA

The sign on the side of Dolly’s House explains Dolly’s business, Ketchikan, Alaska, USA

 

The salmon sculpture is an artwork titled “Yeltatzie Salmon” by artist Terry Plyes and was dedicated above Ketchikan Creek on July 4, 2013, Ketchikan, Alaska, USA

The salmon sculpture is an artwork titled “Yeltatzie Salmon” by artist Terry Plyes and was dedicated above Ketchikan Creek on July 4, 2013, Ketchikan, Alaska, USA; it is named in honor of the Haida Native carver Jones Teltatzie (1900 – 1976) and replaces a painted wood salmon sculpture carved by Yeltatzie in 1963, which occupied this site for many years

 

Looking down at Ketchikan Creek by the “Yeltatzie Salmon” near the Creekside neighborhood, Ketchikan, Alaska, USA

Looking down at Ketchikan Creek by the “Yeltatzie Salmon” near the Creekside neighborhood, Ketchikan, Alaska, USA

 

Downtown by the piers and the Visitor Center is a sign that notes the extremely high annual rainfall in the region, Ketchikan, Alaska, USA

Downtown by the piers and the Visitor Center is a sign that notes the extremely high annual rainfall in the region, Ketchikan, Alaska, USA

 

While somewhat rare these days in the “Lower 48” (the continental United States of America), bald eagles are numerous in the Ketchikan, Alaska, area; this one was photographed from o

While somewhat rare these days in the “Lower 48” (the continental United States of America), bald eagles are numerous in the Ketchikan, Alaska, area; this one was photographed from our “Duck Boat” as we sailed out of the northern marina

 

The rains came and passed and returned again and again all day in Ketchikan, Alaska, USA; our ship at anchor

The rains came and passed and returned again and again all day in Ketchikan, Alaska, USA; our ship at anchor

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2017 by Richard C. Edwards. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Fjordlands (along the Inside Passage), British Columbia, Canada and Alaska, USA

A lighthouse and camp, Fjordlands, British Columbia, Canada

A lighthouse and camp, Fjordlands, British Columbia, Canada

 

While it had been twenty-five years since we first sailed on a cruise through the Inside Passage along the fjords of British Columbia and into the panhandle of Alaska, it remains a very exciting three-day trip north from Vancouver to Ketchikan (“Alaska’s First City”).  The scenery is very reminiscent of some sections of the coast of Maine, USA, as well as Norway and Chilean Patagonia.  The evergreen forests are magnificent and even in mid-summer there remains snow on the coastal mountaintops.  Whether on the forward top deck on our ship or sitting on our verandah, we easily passed hours watching the scenery change as we zigged and zagged through the fjords, sometimes almost squeezing through narrows (some not even 0.5 miles/0.8 kilometers wide) so close to the shore that you wanted to reach out and touch the shoreline trees.

 

The Inside Passage weaves along thousands of Pacific Coast islands that are heavily forested, with the Coastal Mountains visible to the east, Fjordlands, British Columbia, Canada

The Inside Passage weaves along thousands of Pacific Coast islands that are heavily forested, with the Coastal Mountains visible to the east, Fjordlands, British Columbia, Canada

 

The fir forests are magnificent and even in mid-summer there remains snow on the coastal mountaintops, Fjordlands, British Columbia, Canada

The evergreen forests are magnificent and even in mid-summer there remains snow on the coastal mountaintops, Fjordlands, British Columbia, Canada

 

“The Inside Passage is a coastal route for oceangoing vessels along a network of passages which weave through the islands on the Pacific Coast of North America.  The route extends from southeastern Alaska, in the United States, through western British Columbia, in Canada, to northwestern Washington state, in the United States.  Ships using the route can avoid some of the bad weather in the open ocean and may visit some of the many isolated communities along the route.  The Inside Passage is heavily traveled by cruise ships, freighters, tugs with tows, fishing craft and ships of the Alaska Marine Highway, BC Ferries, and Washington State Ferries systems.” — Wikipedia

 

Some of the islands are quite small, Fjordlands, British Columbia, Canada

Some of the islands are quite small, Fjordlands, British Columbia, Canada

 

Most of the Inside Passage is uninhabited, as there are very few bridges and roads connecting the islands to the mainland, Fjordlands, British Columbia, Canada – thus it was a nice sur

Most of the Inside Passage is uninhabited, as there are very few bridges and roads connecting the islands to the mainland, Fjordlands, British Columbia, Canada – thus it was a nice surprise to come across a small sailboat

 

Sometimes our ship squeezed through narrows (some not even 0.5 miles-0.8 kilometers wide) so close to the shore that we wanted to reach out and touch the shoreline trees, Fjordlands, Bri

Sometimes our ship squeezed through narrows (some not even 0.5 miles/0.8 kilometers wide) so close to the shore that we wanted to reach out and touch the shoreline trees, Fjordlands, British Columbia, Canada

 

A small camp with three totem poles by the left hand structure, Fjordlands, British Columbia, Canada

A small camp with three totem poles by the left hand structure, Fjordlands, British Columbia, Canada

 

This Fjordlands island was nicely backlit as we approached Ketchikan, Alaska, USA

This Fjordlands island was nicely backlit as we approached Ketchikan, Alaska, USA

 

As our local guide explained, there are three ways to be on an island in the Fjordlands- by ship, by seaplane (pictured here) and by birth canal; Ketchikan, Alaska, USA

As our local guide explained, there are three ways to be on an island in the Fjordlands: by ship, by seaplane (pictured here) and by birth canal; Ketchikan, Alaska, USA

 

Some of the coastal islands had good sized hills, seen here in the Fjordlands, approaching Ketchikan, Alaska, USA

Some of the coastal islands had good sized hills, seen here in the Fjordlands, approaching Ketchikan, Alaska, USA

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2017 by Richard C. Edwards. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Salt Spring Island, British Columbia, Canada

Sailing is very popular in Salt Spring Island, British Columbia, Canada, with a number of marinas around the main port town of Ganges Village (pictured)

Sailing is very popular in Salt Spring Island, British Columbia, Canada, with a number of marinas around the main port town of Ganges Village (pictured)

 

Largest of British Columbia’s Gulf Islands, Salt Spring Island is located between mainland British Columbia (e.g., Vancouver) and Vancouver Island (home of Victoria, Nanaimo, etc.).  We anchored in the bay outside of Ganges Village for a day, before returning to Vancouver to pick up adventurers headed north to the Alaskan Inside Passage and then on to the Alaskan Peninsula and Aleutian Islands.  The Saturday market was quite crowded with hundreds of vendors, mainly island artists and local farmers and a number of stalls selling food, coffee and other edibles.  The island is very popular for a variety of sports, ranging from hiking, biking, and fishing to kayaking and sailing.

 

John Quinn_s handmade vases in natural stone (“Cast in Stone”) are made on the island from both indigineous slate and stones and materials sourced from around the world, Salt Sprin

John Quinn’s handmade vases in natural stone (“Cast in Stone”) are made on the island from both indigineous slate and stones and materials sourced from around the world, Salt Spring Island, British Columbia, Canada

 

A small harbor behind the Saturday market in Ganges Village, Salt Spring Island, British Columbia, Canada

A small harbor behind the Saturday market in Ganges Village, Salt Spring Island, British Columbia, Canada

 

The clouds built up in the early afternoon over Ganges Village creating a striking skyscape, Salt Spring Island, British Columbia, Canada

The clouds built up in the early afternoon over Ganges Village creating a striking skyscape, Salt Spring Island, British Columbia, Canada

 

Our ship was anchored quite a ways from Ganges Village, Salt Spring Island, British Columbia, Canada – in the midst of many small Gulf Islands

Our ship was anchored quite a ways from Ganges Village, Salt Spring Island, British Columbia, Canada – in the midst of many small Gulf Islands

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2017 by Richard C. Edwards. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.