Can You See Killer Whales In Alaska?

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Grizzlies & Glaciers Tour

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A Whale Of A Tale In Alaska

Many visitors flock to Alaska to see whales. There are many different types of whales that migrate to and from Alaska each year, as well as some that live in Alaska’s cold waters all year round. Keep reading for more information about when whales migrate to Alaska, as well as how and where to see killer whales in Alaska!

Whale tale in Alaska waters

When Do Whales Migrate To Alaska?

Whales begin their long journey to Alaska from the warm waters of Mexico during the month of February. They generally arrive in Alaska by April. From May through September, a variety of different whale species can be seen throughout the state. It is not uncommon for cruise passengers to see whales from the deck of a cruise ship! If you’re wondering why whales migrate to Alaska, it is because the state’s ocean waters are nutrient-dense, providing a perfect feeding ground for the majestic creatures. Whales will spend the winter months in the warm waters off of Hawaii, Baja California, Mexico, and Central America, but return to the cooler waters of Alaska as water temperatures rise in their southern feeding grounds.

The main species of whales that migrate to Alaska during the early spring includes Beluga, blue, gray, and humpback. Other species, such as the Baird’s Beaked, Bowhead, Cuvier’s Beaked, Fin, Minke, North Pacific Right, Sei, Sperm, and Stejneger’s Beaked whales return to Alaska’s cooler waters in search of food, too. Visitors interested in seeing these species before they return south should book a whale-watching tour between May and September!

Alaska’s Resident Whale – The Orca

Certain species of whales, specifically the orca, live and hunt in Alaska’s bays and inlets year-round. Orcas, also known as killer whales, are perhaps the ocean’s most intelligent predator. These 10-ton animals are black and white in appearance. There are two types of killer whales in Alaska. The first, known as resident whales, can be found near the coast. The resident orcas live in gregarious pods and target fish for food. The other type of orca is more elusive and secretive. These killer whales are known as transients and have been known to hunt (and eat) porpoise, dolphins, and other large prey.

When Is The Best Time To See Killer Whales In Alaska?

The best time to see Alaska’s resident orca whales is between May and September. However, the peak season for orca sightings in Alaska is between June and August, when the salmon are running. During this time, orcas can be seen in large groups, hunting for their favorite food. Because they are so active during this period, it is easier to spot them in the water during a whale-watching tour!

Whale-Watching Tours For Orca Sightings

Orca whale jumping out of water in AlaskaAlaska is a huge state, with many places to see orcas. Keep reading for a list of the top four locations to spot killer whales below:

  • The Inside Passage: The Inside Passage is a scenic waterway that runs along the southeastern coast of Alaska. It’s one of the best places to see orcas in Alaska, and there are many whale-watching tours available in the area. Seward is a prominent port of call for cruise ships that sail along the Inside Passage. The town sits on Resurrection Bay, which draws orcas and other whales to its pristine, food-rich waters. Visitors can sometimes see whales from the town’s waterfront park, but the best way to spot killer whales in Alaska is to take a boat tour deep into the bay. Tourists should be able to see pods of killer whales, especially once salmon have begun schooling for spawning runs.
  • Kenai Fjords National Park - Located in south-central Alaska, Kenai Fjords National Park is home to some of the most beautiful glaciers and fjords in the state. It’s also an excellent place to see orcas and humpback whales, gray whales, and other marine life. Three kinds of orcas—resident, transient, and offshore—roam the waters around Kenai Fjords National Park. Native people who settled along the by celebrate this magnificent sea creature, which hunted and fished for some of the same foods that they ate. For that reason, they revered the whale and respected its hunting abilities.
  • Prince William Sound: this stunning fjord, located in south-central Alaska, is known for towering glaciers, pristine water, and abundant marine life – including orcas. While tourists often marvel at the site of lone humpback whales swimming in the Sound, they can also expect to see pods of killer whales rolling and thrashing in the water as they feed on schooling salmon. Boat tours from Whittier or Valdez offer tourists the best opportunity to see whales.
  • Kodiak Island – this island is the second largest island in the United States and is known for its incredible wildlife, including orcas. It’s also home to the Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge, a great place to see these killer whales in Alaska. This commercial fishing town, which sits on the tip of Cook Inlet, just may be the state’s best-kept whale-watching secret. Though most people associate it with its large population of brown bears and hundreds of salmon runs, the community’s geography allows tour operators direct access to the deep ocean along a rugged and interesting coastline. This makes it perfect for whale watching and is a great place for killer whales in Alaska.

Having A Whale Of A Good Time In Alaska

Orcas, which are also known as killer whales, are the largest members of the dolphin family. They are highly social animals and can be found in every ocean worldwide. Alaska is one of the best places to see this mighty whale because its waters are rich in salmon and herring – food sources the killer whales truly enjoy. Since orcas do not migrate to and from Alaska like many other species, it is possible to see them year-round. So get ready for a whale of a good time hunting down these magnificent creatures!

Download all three Alaska tour brochures for tour dates and pricing.