Citizen Science Participation

Guests who participate in our Discover Alaska’s Whales tour play a significant role in gathering scientific data for various educational/research organizations, while at the same time enjoying whale watching as part of an exclusive group. This page outlines our science partners and the engaging tour activities that support their research.


Photo by Scott Ranger

Activity: Humpback Whale Observations

Lead Scientist: Suzie Teerlink, Ph.D.

The purpose of the activity: To collect humpback whale photo ID’s and corresponding data from existing platforms, to be used to help monitor humpback whales in the Juneau area. Photo identifications allow us to track individuals through time, estimate abundance, individual preferences in feeding locations, and document important life history information, such as frequency of calving.

These observations:

    1. Contribute important baseline data for monitoring humpback whales.
    2. Provide an opportunity for more directed research questions.
    3. Engage the public in the scientific process and give them hands-on experience with the data collection process.

Interested in learning more? Check out the 2021 Humpback Survey for a summary of whale sightings, or visit to see the data from our Gastineau Guiding trips.

Photo by Annie Macie

Activity: Orca Observations

Scientist: Research Associate, Josh D McInnes with Marine Mammal Research Unit Institute for Oceans and Fisheries, Aquatic Ecosystem Research Laboratory at University of British Columbia


The purpose of the activity: With three morphotypes of orca in Alaskan waters (resident, transient and offshore), we attempt to get photographs of the dorsal fin and saddle patch when we encounter orca.

These samples:

  1. Help identify and track Eastern Pacific Orca
  2. Determine the individual orca coupled with the geographic location to determine their range and sometimes feeding behavior
  3. Identify which morphotypes are in Juneau waters (resident, transient, and offshore).

Interested in Learning More?Check out the Orca Observations from the 2021 season

Photo by Adriane Hornerbrink

Activity: Invasive Species Monitoring

Contact: Gary Freitag, M.S. Oceanography, Program Agent, Alaska Sea Grant Marine Advisory Program


The purpose of today’s activity: To monitor Southeast waters for the presence of the invasive European green crab and capture snapshots to record the number and types of animals released from the trap.

These monitoring efforts:

  1. Test Auke Bay waters for either the presence or absence of the invasive European green crab; they have been recently been found within 100 miles of the Alaskan boarder as zooplankton!
  2. Use photography to provide baseline data on the ecology of Auke Bay.
  3. Provide an opportunity to learn about some of the area’s ‘less popular’ marine animals.

Interested in learning more? Check out our European Green Crab & Subtidal Life Summary 2021

Photo by Adriane Hornerbrink

Activity: Piniped Entanglement in Marine Debris

Scientist: Kim Raum-Suryan, Pinniped Entanglement Group Coordinator, Co-Management, ESA Section 7


The purpose of the activity: To educate on the frequency of pinniped entanglement, and report any injured, entangled or dead marine mammals in the water or on the beach.

These observations:

  1. Assist in the observation and reporting of injured and/or entangled marine animals.
  2. Help in reducing the number of entangled animals
  3. Provide education to guests and community members about marine debris and pinniped entanglement in Alaska

Interested in Learning More? Check out our Steller Sea Lion Survey 2021 data.

All of the above activities are considered “citizen science”, which is scientific research conducted, in whole or in part, by amateur scientists or lay persons. The process of science (or citizen science) can be tedious at best; however, it is many small observations over time that can lead to significant truths. By participating in this tour, and its citizen science projects, you are contributing to a better understanding of the nature of Southeast Alaska.

Are you a researcher interested in our data? We’re happy to provide you with any of our data sets! Contact us at for more information.