Glacier Bay Humpback Whales
Whales of Alaska & including dolphins, and porpoise.

Alaska Whales

This page titled “Whales of Alaska” will introduce you to the various species of whales and aquatic mammals including dolphins, and porpoise present in the waters off Alaska. What species of cetaceans, “whales, dolphins, and porpoise”, inhabit or migrate through Alaska's coastal waters?

Answer: Baleen whales, Toothed whales, sperm whales, pygmy whales, beaked whales, belugas, dolphins and porpoises. Killer Whales or Orcas along with Humpback, Gray, Blue and Pilot Whales all are known to the Alaska waters.

Baleen whales are very large, have paired blow holes, and characteristic baleen plates that they use to filter food. Alaska Baleen Whales include the Blue, Gray and Humpback whale, fin whale, Bryde's whale, blue whale, right whale, and northern minke. Baleen whales feed mostly on plankton, which contains a variety of tiny crustaceans, such as krill and copepods.

Toothed whales, there are several families of Odontoceti, or toothed whales. This includes the sperm whales, pygmy sperm whales, beaked whales, belugas, dolphins and porpoises.

Alaska Marine Mammals!

Like you and I, Mammals are warm blooded creatures, they have at least a few hairs on their bodies, and they nourish their young with milk. Whales are the largest species of marine mammals, members of the order Cetacean, which also includes dolphins and porpoises. They include the largest known animals ever evolved.

Alaska Whales

  • Blue Whale - The Blue Whale are the largest of the whale species and possibly the largest animal of any kind to have ever lived on the Earth. The Blue whale can grow to be over 100 feet in length and may weigh in at an astonishing 160 tons. Even with their massive size, the Blue whale feeds on the tiny krill and copepods found in the oceans. It is estimated to take some 2,200 lbs. of food to fill a blue whale's stomach. The Blue is part of the subspecies Baleen Whales.
    • Outer Continental Shelf - Seldom seen in the inter-coastal waters where most whale watching occurs. Blue whales can be found in all of the worlds oceans.
    • Status: Endangered
  • Beluga Whale - Our friendly little Beluga Whale is a small whitish whale that lives, hunts, and migrates together in pods of a few, to hundreds of whales. Beluga whales are extremely social, hence why we affectionately call them Our Friendly Little Whales. In the summer, they are often found near river mouths, and sometimes even venture up river following the returning salmon runs. Beluga whales are also known by many as the "canaries of the sea" because they produce a large collection of sounds including whistles, chirps, squeals, moos, and clicking sounds. These sounds are used to communicate with others in their group and as well as to locate their prey when hunting food. Beluga whales feed on the abundant supply of Alaska salmon, herring, shrimp, cod, flounder, and even crab. Not a bad diet by any standards.
    • Beaufort Sea
    • Bristol Bay
    • Bering Sea
    • Chukchi Sea
    • Cook Inlet
    • Status: Threatened
  • Bowhead Whale - Bowhead whales are found only in the Northern Hemisphere, in Arctic waters. The Bowhead whale spends much of its time under the arctic sea ice. They are large, round black whales, with enormous heads that are about one third of the total body length of adult whales. Bowhead whales can spend a great deal of time under ice, it is still unknown how the whales find their next breathing holes. The Alaskan population of Bowhead whales fund in the Bering, Chukchi and Beaufort seas is the largest population of bowhead whales in the world. Bowhead whales for the most part eat zooplankton including copepods and small shrimp-like animals popularly known as krill. Scientists estimate that a bowhead whale needs to eat about 100 metric tons of food per year.
    • Beaufort Sea
    • Bering Sea
    • Chukchi Sea
    • Status: Endangered
  • Gray Whale - Grow to a length of about 45 feet and produce sounds often described as moans, rumbles, knocks or growls. The gray whales of Alaska prefer the shallow, coastal waters sometimes being seen in the protected waters associated with whale watching tours. These whales most often feed over oceanic continental shelves around the northern Bering and southern Chukchi seas between Alaska and Russia during the summer. In the winter, many of these gray whales migrate to the warm waters of Mexico's Baja California. It is during these migration times that most sightings occur. Each year, Gray whales migrate along the entire West Coast of Alaska, the Continental U.S., British Columbia, and Mexico.
    • Eastern North Pacific - North American West Coast.
    • Status: Protected, recently taken off the U.S. List of Endangered and Threatened Species.
  • Humpback Whale - Humpbacks are widely distributed in all of the oceans of the world. Humpback whales can grow to near 50 feet in length. They are mostly black or gray but sometimes appear somewhat brown in color. One distinguishing factor is seen in the undersides of their flukes, flippers and bellies which are often covered with white areas. Humpbacks have not one blow holes but two and a small dorsal fin on top of their bodies with long flippers up front. Humpback whales are extremely active whales and tend to thrill spectators and do lots of flipper and fluke slapping making for some great photography. The Humpback whales tend to breach more than any other whales. Humpbacks feed on krill, herring, cod, sardines, and others sorts of small fish.
    • All Coastal Waters of Alaska
    • Southeast Alaska Panhandle -
    • Glacier Bay Alaska -
    • Gulf of Alaska -
    • Kodiak Alaska -
    • Status: Endangered
  • Orca, aka Killer Whale -
    • During the summer months, from June to September, the northern resident whales can generally be seen from northern Vancouver Island to Alaska. They prefer to live in coastal waters in cooler regions. One thousand have been identified and photographed in Alaskan waters. Transient whale pods can be seen all along the western coast of North America, from Glacier Bay in Alaska to the southern California coast.