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Sitka Sea Otter and Wildlife Expedition


Paul Bradley
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We're on a northbound cruise in mid-June and for Sitka I've booked a Sea Otter and Wildlife Expedition which guarantees sea otter, whale or bear sightings. On that basis, I booked this excursion rather than a dedicated whale watching expedition. So my question is, how likely are we to see whales at that time of year in Sitka, and what species are we likely to encounter? 

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3 hours ago, Paul Bradley said:

We're on a northbound cruise in mid-June and for Sitka I've booked a Sea Otter and Wildlife Expedition which guarantees sea otter, whale or bear sightings. On that basis, I booked this excursion rather than a dedicated whale watching expedition. So my question is, how likely are we to see whales at that time of year in Sitka, and what species are we likely to encounter? 

 

You will see lots of otters.  In my three times on this tour, I have always seen humpback whales but also sitka deer, gray whales feeding near the shore, and bald eagles.

 

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3 hours ago, Paul Bradley said:

Cool! That's made the decision for me on what lenses to take! 

 

Alaska wildlife will not be close so you have to have enough lens to grab them.  With the amazing scenery, you need a wide angle to capture.  I also bring a 1.X teleconvertor just in case.

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I have a number of lenses, but I think I'll want to take my 150-600 for this excursion on the one body for the wildlife and a 35-105 on the other, to capture multi-frame panoramas. 

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17 minutes ago, Paul Bradley said:

I have a number of lenses, but I think I'll want to take my 150-600 for this excursion on the one body for the wildlife and a 35-105 on the other, to capture multi-frame panoramas. 

 

The best lenses for Alaska are those with high weather-resistant properties since Alaska is in a temperate rainforest.  If your lenses are not, bring a poncho to keep them dry between shots during rain.

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I did this excursion last June.  Also saw 2 humpback whales, bald eagles, Sitka deer, a bear on shore (need binoculars for him) and more sea otters than I could count. Ours also went to the Alaska Raptor Center and Fortress of the Bears.

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9 hours ago, Crew News said:

 

The best lenses for Alaska are those with high weather-resistant properties since Alaska is in a temperate rainforest.  If your lenses are not, bring a poncho to keep them dry between shots during rain.

 

I've already purchased some, but I need to try them out first. Waiting for it to rain here....

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1 hour ago, marden1970 said:

I did this excursion last June.  Also saw 2 humpback whales, bald eagles, Sitka deer, a bear on shore (need binoculars for him) and more sea otters than I could count. Ours also went to the Alaska Raptor Center and Fortress of the Bears.

 

Nice!  We're doing the Raptor Center in the morning, and this excursion in the afternoon. Should be a good wildlife day!

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8 hours ago, Paul Bradley said:

 

Nice!  We're doing the Raptor Center in the morning, and this excursion in the afternoon. Should be a good wildlife day!

 

At the Raptor Center they will bring an eagle out onto the stage after warning the audience to make so sounds or sudden moves.  It will be your chance to get a good closeup of an eagle as it sits on the handlers arm.

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I think they rotate thru several birds; when we went it was a very large snowy owl.  Just beautiful.  There was a bald eagle in an enclosure right outside the door.  There was a trail off to the side but I didn't have time to explore, our time there was limited.

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I took that excursion several years ago.  I did see humpbacks (including a breach) as well as otters, a distant bear on shore and other wildlife.  What was surprising was the number and colors of sea stars attached to rocks in one of the coves we went into.

 

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On 5/17/2019 at 6:24 AM, ricko999 said:

Good to read positive reviews of wildlife around Sitka! We are taking a tour with Gallant Adventures on 6/26/19. Bringing my nifty-fifty and the 300.

RO

 

Sitka never seems to disappoint for wildlife.  We've been out twice on Allen Marine's Sea Otter and Wildlife tour but most recently, we've been out twice on the Gallant and would be again this summer if he wasn't already booked.  😞  Captain Paul is "the man!!" - and he will definitely get you right on the wildlife for some great photo ops!  Enjoy!  

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  • 4 months later...
On 5/17/2019 at 8:24 AM, ricko999 said:

Good to read positive reviews of wildlife around Sitka! We are taking a tour with Gallant Adventures on 6/26/19. Bringing my nifty-fifty and the 300.

RO

How was the tour.  I would really like to do this as opposed to Allen Marine ( which still looks good)  How bumpy of a ride was it and how were the seats.  My  parents will be with us and they have a few aches and pains.  Thanks

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Aside from the cold and wet weather, it was great! We saw a group of juvenile male sea otters, a couple of humpbacks, one grey whale feeding close inshore and a host of eagles. As I say, the weather was cold and wet, but there are inside areas on the boat to warm up in, and there are liberal supplies of hot chocolate and hot tea! The boat crew seemed knowledgeable and were accessible. Although we didn't see as much as I'd hoped, what we did see was very cool. 

 

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We had smooth seas, so not much pitching, but that isn't always the case, I'm sure. The seats on the upper deck, which is where we were, were simple bench seats, though I spent most of my time at the deck railings. I think the downstairs seats are cushioned, and there are large picture windows. 

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On 5/15/2019 at 4:14 PM, Crew News said:

I used Olympus OMD E-1 Mark 1 with 40-150 mm lens.

 

Just in case this needs explaining: this camera uses the Micro Four Thirds format, so 40-150 mm is equivalent to 80-300 mm on a full-frame camera.

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