Last Updated on March 18, 2024 by Jawad Ali

Are you looking to spot some whales during your Juneau whale watching tour? You’ve come to the right place! Whale watching is an incredibly rewarding experience and one that you won’t soon forget.

With the right knowledge, you can identify different types of whales and stay safe while doing so. In this article, you’ll learn about the many species of whales commonly found in Juneau, how to spot them, tips for photographing them, and identifying whales on a tour.

We’ll also go over some essential whale watching etiquette and safety tips so that you can enjoy your time out at sea without any worries.

So let’s get started – read on to find out all there is to know about identifying whales during a Juneau whale watching tour!

Overview of Whale Species Found in Juneau

With a variety of majestic creatures inhabiting the waters around Juneau, it’s no wonder whale-watching is such a popular activity!

There are several species of whales that can be spotted in the area during certain times of the year, including humpback and minke whales. Humpbacks are easily recognized by their unique tail flukes which they use for hunting habits and mating behavior. Minke whales can also be identified by their slender shape and white patches along the sides of their bodies.

In addition to these two species, orcas, gray whales, beluga whales, and fin whales may also be seen in the waters off Juneau.

It is important to remember that each species has different characteristics that should be taken into consideration when attempting to identify them correctly.

How to Spot a Whale

If you’re on a whale watching tour in Juneau, Alaska, spotting whales can be quite an adventure!

To help you identify the majestic mammals, start by looking for breaching. Breaching is when a whale jumps out of the water and then splashes back down.

You should also listen for blowholes; whales expel air from their blowholes to breathe and make a distinct noise when doing so.

Finally, pay attention to bird activity; seabirds often flock near feeding whales, so if you see many birds hovering in one spot it’s probably due to a whale nearby.

Look for Breaching

Observing a breaching behavior can be an effective way of spotting aquatic mammals on such an excursion. Breaching involves the animal jumping out of the water and is often done to communicate, rid themselves of parasites, or just for fun.

To look for breaching behavior, you should:
* Scan for disturbances in the water’s surface that could indicate a breach.
* Look for splashes from whales swimming near the surface as it can indicate they are about to breach.
* Utilize underwater acoustics if available – some companies have hydrophones which allow you to hear whale calls and determine their location.
* Monitor boat speed – whales tend to stay near boats that are traveling slowly so maintain a slow speed when searching for them.

By looking out for these signs, you may be able to spot aquatic mammals during your excursion more effectively than relying solely on sight alone. Additionally, listening intently can also help with identifying whales; blowholes are another tell-tale sign of nearby whales and will alert you to their presence quickly.

Listen for Blowholes

Listening closely for the sound of blowholes can be a great way to spot aquatic mammals on your Juneau whale watching tour. Whale communication through underwater sounds is an important part of their lives and understanding these vocalizations can help you identify different species.

Blowholes are the most prominent and recognizable type of communication among whales, producing loud blasts that travel distances and stand out from other noises in the ocean. The sound varies between species depending on how long they hold their breath underwater before releasing it through their blowhole. Humpback whales produce short bursts while sperm whales have longer and more drawn-out releases.

With practice, you’ll be able to recognize which types of noises indicate which species are nearby. Moving on, pay attention to bird activity as they may lead you to where the whales are hiding.

Pay Attention to Bird Activity

Keep your eyes peeled for flocks of seagulls soaring overhead – they’ll be sure to lead you to an amazing aquatic show! Bird behavior can be a great indicator that whales are nearby, and it’s one of the best ways to spot them during a whale watching tour.

Seagulls will often fly over areas where whales have recently surfaced, either looking for food or coming up for air. By paying attention to the birds’ movements and behaviors, you can get a good sense of whether or not there is a whale in the area.

Additionally, bird activity may also help you identify different types of whales; if seagulls are flying in tight circles or congregating around one area, chances are there’s a larger marine mammal beneath the surface. To improve your chances of seeing whales on your next whale watching trip, pay attention to bird activity and use it as an indicator for where you should look next!

Transitioning from bird behavior to identifying different types of whales requires knowledge about their physical characteristics and other distinguishing traits.

Identifying Different Types of Whales

By understanding the unique characteristics of each species, you can gain a deeper appreciation for the amazing creatures in our waters. Each whale species has its own distinct physical features, social behavior, and migration patterns that set them apart from one another.

Here are some key characteristics to look out for when identifying different types of whales:

* Blowholes – These are two nostril openings near the top of the whale’s head that it uses to breathe air at the surface.

* Coloration – Most whales are dark on their back with lighter shades on their underside or sides.

* Tail Flukes – The tail fluke is a large triangular piece of skin and blubber located at the end of the whale’s body used for propulsion during swimming.

By paying close attention to these cues, you can distinguish between different types of whales during your Juneau whale watching tour and appreciate each variety in its natural environment.

Tips for Photographing Whales

With the right equipment and techniques, you can capture stunning photos of whales that will last a lifetime.

For instance, when photographing humpback whales off the coast of Hawaii, make sure to have a telephoto lens ready to zoom in on their tail flukes as they dive beneath the waves.

Choosing the right camera is also key for capturing beautiful shots; digital SLRs are preferred for whale watching photography since they offer high-resolution images and adjustable settings such as shutter speed and ISO sensitivity.

Lighting conditions must be taken into consideration as well; early morning or late afternoon light gives photos an extra special glow while midday light often results in washed out shots.

When taking pictures of whales during your Juneau whale watching tour, keep these tips in mind to ensure you get amazing snapshots of these majestic sea creatures!

Whale Watching Etiquette

Observing whales in their natural habitat can be an incredibly awe-inspiring experience, so it’s important to brush up on your whale-watching etiquette before heading out!

Firstly, when navigating the boat, you’ll want to keep a safe distance from the whales. Generally speaking, boats should stay at least 100 yards away from any migrating whale. Additionally, it’s important to pay attention to whale migration patterns and plan accordingly; if you’re aware of where the whales are headed and how fast they’re travelling then you can adjust your boat navigation accordingly.

Secondly, be sure to minimize noise pollution by avoiding loud noises or sudden movements around the whales – this is a disturbingly common practice that disrupts their natural behavior and migration patterns. Furthermore, make sure not to feed or touch any of the wildlife for safety reasons as well as out of respect for these majestic creatures.

Lastly, avoid using flash photography; this could startle or scare them away so instead look for natural light opportunities like early mornings or late sunsets when taking pictures with your camera.

With these etiquette tips in mind, you’ll have a respectful and enjoyable experience while whale watching in Juneau!

How to Stay Safe While Whale Watching

Experiencing the majestic creatures of the sea up close can be an amazing adventure, but it’s essential to take safety precautions when whale watching!

Before embarking on your tour, make sure you are aware of boat safety protocols and wildlife viewing guidelines. Always wear a life jacket and listen to instructions from your guide or crew members carefully.

Make sure you stay within the designated area for whale watching and avoid approaching any whales too closely. Additionally, if you see any signs of distress in the whales such as erratic movements or possible entanglement in fishing gear, notify your guide immediately.

By following these simple steps, you can ensure that both yourself and the wildlife remain safe during your experience. Keep in mind that observing these animals in their natural environment is a privilege- so take all necessary safety precautions to ensure everyone’s enjoyment!


Congratulations! You’ve now got the skills to identify whales during a Juneau whale watching tour. With a little luck, you’ll be able to spot and photograph these majestic creatures in their natural habitat.

But remember, always observe them from a safe distance and adhere to whale watching etiquette.

So why not get out there and experience the wonders of whale watching? After all, what could be more magical than witnessing the power and grace of these incredible animals?