Among the top reasons travelers come to Alaska is to see the amazing variety of wildlife in the state. Because much of the state is largely undeveloped and many areas have been protected, visitors can experience the vast range of the region’s marine and terrestrial wildlife species. Cruising often allows visitors the best opportunities for viewing the rich bounty of wildlife that makes the state so unique.
Alaska’s salmon runs are legendary, and you will understand why when you experience the rushing, leaping abundance of fish swimming upstream to spawn that occurs during the summer months. Research your cruise line’s offerings for shore excursions to get up-close and personal with this extraordinary feature of Alaska’s ecology. If possible, try your hand at angling.
The state is also known for its bear populations, which generally live in areas far from human contact. Cruising can allow you to get to these hidden wildlife-rich areas and see these enormous creatures in safety. You can also take a floatplane excursion to other areas to increase your opportunities to see Alaska’s brown, black and grizzly bears.
Elks, Moose and Caribou
Although most common in the interior areas, cruisers may get a glimpse of Alaska’s large, hoofed inhabitants as they move through the mountainous areas and level plains. Excursions to Denali National Park and other parts of the state’s interior will increase the chances of viewing these large mammals.
Alaskan waters are rich in marine wildlife, a fact that makes cruising such a popular activity in the state. Cruisers can see seals, sea lions, humpback whales, Orcas and sea otters swimming in the waters or basking on shore. Bring binoculars and your camera to take full advantage of these viewing opportunities.
Birds of Alaska
Whether you’re an experienced birder or a total novice, Alaska offers a wealth of species to enjoy. Bald eagles, Arctic Terns, Ravens, Red-tailed Hawk, Common Merganser, Black Turnstones, Chestnut-backed Chickadees, Belted Kingfishers, Fork-tailed Storm Petrels, Fox Sparrows, Mew Gulls, Surf Scoters and others are frequently seen along cruise routes. Puffins, cormorants and frigate birds are also abundant.
Depending on where you travel in the state and what type of shore excursions you choose, you can also view Gray Wolves, Red Foxes, Mountain Goats, Musk Oxen, Wolverines and Lynx. Many conservation parks are available allow the public to see and enjoy these extraordinary creatures at close range. Check for opportunities to visit these wildlife preserves along your cruise route.