Whale Watching in Resurrection Bay, Seward Alaska

I never thought whales were cool when I was little.  My family took trips to various beaches over the years, and inevitably at some point in the vacation my mom would dash up to interrupt my boogie boarding or my tanning (teenage years) to excitedly point out some masses off in the distance.

“Look at those whales Payje! Aren’t they amazing/beautiful/majestic/incredible?”  I couldn’t be bothered.

And to be perfectly honest, whales have always made me a little bit uncomfortable.   Whenever I step into the ocean, and I know this is weird, I always have to acknowledge the fact that somewhere, there is a dead whale in that very same water.  And I don’t know why but that just doesn’t sit well with me.

But time has a way of changing things as you well know.

A few weeks ago I took you on a little trip to Exit Glacier, near Seward, Alaska.  On that very same trip, my faith in large marine mammals was renewed.  Seward, like Homer, is an “end of the road town”.  We seem to be drawn to those somehow.  And so of course, we had to see where the end was.

After leaving the town of Seward, the Seward Highway immediately turns to dirt, then almost just as quickly narrows to become barely passable for two vehicles.  And, even better than that, on one side of the road a massive mountain cliff rises straight up out of the ground.  On the other side of the road, the earth drops off straight into Resurrection Bay.

As I was trying to maneuver us through this epic roadway (that I still argue should probably have a section on the show “Deadliest Journeys”) Justin rode shotgun.  I was getting a little bit flustered because for some crazy reason that I just couldn’t understand, people seemed to be PARKING on this tiny road.  They were getting out and walking over to the edge of the bay.  “What are they doing????”  I asked in a voice that could easily have been mistaken for desperation, “What are they looking at?  Can’t they see how small this road is?”  But now Justin was also craning his neck to see what they were looking at.

“Pull over” he said, “there are whales in there I think!”

Pull over where?

So I wedged us into a very small area between the cliff and the dirt road, and across we went, just in time to see a massive whale come right up out of the water about 100 feet in front of us.


And this went on and on, the whales were moving all over the bay, first they would stick their big faces straight up out of the water, then they would flip over and go back down, and their massive tails would splash up out of the water after them.  I was entranced.  I couldn’t be pulled away.  Someone standing next to us told us that the whales were “bubble-netting”.  Have you heard of that one? No?  Well, here comes your science lesson.

Bubble-netting is a team effort used by groups of humpback whales to eat.  The whales swim really fast in circles around schools of fish (krill mostly) and blow lots of bubbles.  The bubbles stun and disorient the krill, so they are all trapped in one little area.  That’s when the whales go in for the kill (haha the “krill kill”).  They swim down to the very bottom of the ocean (taking turns in order of family hierarchy, how crazy is that?) then swim straight up to the surface with their mouths open, filling up with all those tiny little fishes all at once.  Pretty good strategy huh?

It was so cool to witness these huge creatures doing something so incredible, and so close too!  We had front row seats to the bubble netting extravaganza.  And mom, just so you know, I will never take your whale sightings for granted again.



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  1. That is really cool that they were so close to you. I have loved whales since I was young and always jump at the chance to see them in the wild.

    • payjeb@gmail.com says:

      Thanks it was super cool! As you can tell from above I never thought they were anything special, but getting to see them like that really changed my mind! We live in Homer, and I heard that sometimes at the end of the summer you can see pods of orcas swim by in the bay, so I will definitely be keeping my eyes open for that!

  2. Thats so cool!! I absolutely love that you got to see whales krill!! I’ve never seen whales before and would love to!! I did manage to see a dolphin this weekend paddle boarding. How cool would it be if you could touch one of the whales?!!


    • payjeb@gmail.com says:

      Thanks lady! It was such an awesome and unexpected thing to see. I bet it was just as cool to see dolphins out paddle boarding too though! What cool animal experiences we have! Although… I think that I would freak out if I ever touched a whale. I don’t know if I could handle it!

  3. I am now, seriously and officially jealous. I’ve paid money to go see whales via whale watching boat and here you are on a cliff watching them feed from 100 feet. Wow!

    • payjeb@gmail.com says:

      The funny thing is, we had been agonizing over the decision about whether we should pay the $400 to go out on the full day wildlife cruise into the Kenai Fjords that day. We finally decided that we just didn’t have the money to spend and that if we could save some up we would come back another time, and I was kind of disappointed about it but ok with it. THEN we saw the whales, it was like a sign or something! It was truly a spectacular thing to see.

  4. Ayngelina says:

    I grew up in Nova Scotia where you can go whale watching but I have never gone! It would be amazing to go in Alaska.

  5. Lynne Bier says:

    Wow – another amazing adventure! I love following your blog and enjoying your descriptions and photos of the Alaskan landscape and wildlife. I laughed so hard at your “krill kill” .
    Thanks Payje for keeping us entertained back here on the mainland!

    • payjeb@gmail.com says:

      Thanks Mama! I’m so glad I can share this with everyone and that you can see everything we’re doing!

  6. That is very cool that you saw whales without having to take a cruise!

    • payjeb@gmail.com says:

      It was SO AWESOME! Even cooler because we weren’t expecting it. Did you get down to the peninsula at all while you were here?

  7. Amazing photos!! I would love to go whale watching. My husband and I are planning an Alaska vacation next summer…seeing your pictures make me even more excited to visit! :)

    • payjeb@gmail.com says:

      Oh thank you!!! You guys will just love it to death up here, it’s so beautiful everywhere you go! Where are you thinking about traveling to while you’re here?

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