Wildlife Wonderland in Juneau

Locals say that there are only three ways to get into landlocked Juneau: by air, by sea, or through the birth canal. There are no roads leading into or out of the state capital, and the surrounding rugged mountains are testament to Alaska’s wilderness heritage.  So is the abundant wildlife.   On the short, 20-minute ride to a local marina, we saw no less than three bald eagles resting on treetops and light poles. And a whale watching expedition here is significantly more satisfying than a similar voyage in the lower 48. In fact, the local humpback whale population during summer  is so dense that the tour operators guarantee sightings – or will give passengers a refund. We were lucky enough to get an up-close view of a pod of 14 humpbacks engaging in bubble-net feeding, a rare and spectacular form of shared-task feeding that left grizzled crew members awed – and moved some to tears. Then, as if on cue, a pair of Orcas (Killer Whales) surfaced, swimming parallel to our boat.  That trip, with its ubiquitous wildlife sightings, was emblematic of the Alaskan experience.