5 Whales To Watch For Around Kodiak

There are numerous whale species to watch for in the blue waters surrounding Kodiak Island!

Whales To Watch For Around Kodiak


Technically, orcas, or killer whales, aren’t whales, but dolphins.  They generally travel in pods, and can eat everything from fish to squids to birds to seals.  They’re very recognizable due to their distinctive black-and-white coloring – and the movie Free Willy!  They are amazingly smart, and have strong family structure, with a tribal approach to raising young.

Gray Whales

These gray mammals are often covered in barnacles and scars from fighting, to the point that marine biologists use scarring patterns to identify individual whales.  Their crustacean-heavy diet means they live primarily in coastal waters, rarely venturing out to deeper sea areas, but they are also known to eat plankton, small fish, and other food.

Humpback Whales

Humpbacks are large baleen whales, often reaching lengths of 52 feet and weights of 33 tons.  Their body shape is distinctive with longs fins and a “knobby” head, and since they spend a fair amount of time at the surface, they’re a favorite for whale watchers.  They are popular victims to the whale hunting industry, and nearly went extinct prior to regulations in 1966.  They often defend other animals against orca attacks, such as gray whales.  They’ve been known to mate with other whale species, such as gray whales and blue whales, and are friendly with even more species of ocean mammals, including dolphins.

Fin Whales

Fin whales are the second largest ocean mammal, falling behind only blue whales for size, often reaching lengths of 85 feet and weights of 74 tons.  While they do live in pods like orcas, these pods are significantly smaller, generally numbering only two to seven whales at any given time.  They are very fast, often able to outswim ocean steamers.  Their diets consist of fish, squid, and crustaceans.

Interestingly, despite their genetic relation to blue whales being similar to that of gorillas and humans, there is scientific evidence that the two species can interbreed, and a lot of fin whale meat has been shown to come from blue whale/fin whale hybrids.

Minke Whales

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The most beautiful minke whale shot by my supervisor @matt_curnock Matt is one of the researchers from the Minke Whale Project, which focuses on swim-with minke whales in Queensland. The research has been going for years and they offers invaluable data and experience that I believe can guide and support the new swim-with humpback whales industry in Australia. Swimming with whales is an incredible experience, but we need to make sure that we support on going research to understand the impact on the whales and to keep swimmers safe. Please check the Minke Whale Project Website. It’s full of info and facts about these beautiful whales. Link in bio. #whale #whalelover #whalelove #humpbackwhales #humpackwhale #humpbackwhaleresearch #minkewhale #minkewhales #swimwithwhales #swimmingwithwhales #marinemammals #marinesnimals #cetaceans #marinelife #cetacean #seacreatures #oceanlife #discoverocean

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You’re quite likely to see minke whales while you’re in Kodiak, due to a high population and their natural curiosity – they love to approach boats just to see what’s going on!  On average, they run 23 to 26 feet in length, with females being larger than males, and are the second smallest baleen whales.  As baleen whales, they generally eat krill almost exclusively.  They are common prey for orcas.

Enjoy trying to catch a glimpse of all the different whale species that swim in the water around Kodiak!