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Alaska Wildlife

Alaska is home to an incredibly diverse array of wildlife. Brown bears foraging, bald eagles soaring above, humpback whales breaching in an acrobatic display—you’ll find some of world’s most fascinating animals thriving in their natural habitat here. From land to sea to sky, remarkable wildlife sighting opportunities greet you at every turn.

Get to know Alaska’s iconic animals better and prepare for an Alaska cruise with our guide to spotting Alaska wildlife.

Alaska Marine Life


Whale watching in Alaska is a truly humbling experience. Spotting a whale breaching (breaking through the water’s surface) is a spectacular sight. In Alaska, the humpback whale and the orca whale are the most common type you can encounter throughout your journey.
Whale watching on an Alaska cruise

Humpback whales

June and July are the best times to spot humpback whales as they glide into Alaska’s Inside Passage, but it is possible to see humpbacks any time from May to September.
Orca whale seen on a shore excursion

Orca whales (killer whales)

Despite their name, orca whales are actually the largest member of the dolphin family. Orca whales often cruise at the water’s surface, spouting every few seconds as they swim. You can easily identify these iconic creatures by their black-and-white coloring and triangular dorsal fins.

Book your Alaska cruise between early May to early June for your best chance to watch orcas, who like to hang out near Juneau, Ketchikan, and Seward.

Grizzly bear at top of river catching salmon


Alaska and salmon go hand in hand. Vital to Alaska’s ecosystem, Pacific salmon like Chinook, sockeye, pink, chum, and coho salmon start returning to Alaska in May and can be spotted well into the fall. Watch as determined salmon swim upstream and conquer obstacles like dams and waterfalls by jumping as high as 8 feet.

Ketchikan and Kodiak are both great places to spot spawning salmon.

View of three seals resting on floating ice in front of a glacier in Alaska


When they’re not hunting for food, you can find harbor seals resting in packs on sandbars, beaches, and ice floes near glaciers. Unlike fur seals and sea lions, harbor seals don’t have external ear flaps. Instead, they have small holes that open and close when they dive. This absence gives them a keen sense of hearing. Spring and summer are the best times to see seals as they lounge on floating glacial ice.

Kenai Fjords National Park is perfect for spotting seals and other marine life like sea lions and otters.

Alaska Land Life

Mother grizzly with her cubs in an Alaskan meadow


As one of the Big Five animals of Alaska, there’s a good chance you’ll spot a brown bear lumbering around! Brown bear sightings often line up with salmon spawning season in the spring and summer, as bears flock to the water to catch a meal. Brown bears in Alaska can eat 80 to 90 pounds of food per day in the summer and fall, making mid-day naps a must. Popular bear viewing tours depart from Anchorage, Kodiak, and Juneau.
Moose, Alaska


The Alaskan moose is the biggest of the moose species and the largest member of the deer family. Only adult males, known as bulls, grow antlers. Weighing 800 to 1,600 pounds and standing up to 6 feet tall, the mighty Alaskan moose is an incredible sight.

While Alaskan moose can be seen year-round, be on the lookout for newborns at the end of May. Late September and October is rutting (mating) season for adult moose, when males fight with their antlers in competition for females. Anchorage and Denali National Park are top spots for Alaskan moose.

View of a Grey Wolf splashing across a creek in Alaska


Traveling in packs, gray wolves are the most common type  in Alaska. While the odds of seeing wolves in Alaska are generally unpredictable, these stealthy animals are active year-round, so keep your eyes peeled.

Denali National Park is recognized as one of the best places in the world to see wolves in the wild.

Alaska Birds

Haines Eagle Preserve Float & Wildlife Quest

Bald Eagles

Getting its name from the distinctive white head of the adult bird, the bald eagle abounds in Alaska. In fact, Alaska is home to an estimated 30,000 bald eagles. With a wingspan of up to 7.5 feet, the bald eagle is a magnificent creature to spot soaring in the Alaskan sky.

While bald eagles can be seen year-round, you might catch them swooping in to take advantage of the rivers brimming with salmon in the summertime. KetchikanJuneau, and the Tongass National Forest near Sitka, Alaska are just some of the many great places to see bald eagles.

A pair of puffins perch on a rock on St. Peter Island in Alaska


Alaska’s puffins—both tufted and horned—are famous for their bright-orange beaks, black-and-white coloring, and webbed feet. Tufted puffins have tufts of feathers behind each eye, while horned puffins have black horn-like markings over each eye.

The best time to see puffins in Alaska is between spring and fall. A kayaking excursion is a great way to see these adorable creatures up close. Kenai Fjords National Park is one of the best places to view puffins in Alaska.

View of a Peregrine Falcon in flight

Peregrine Falcons

Some peregrine falcons migrate to Alaska in the spring, while others live in Alaska year-round. Peregrine falcons can dive at speeds of over 200 mph to capture their prey, making them the fastest diving birds in the world.

Peregrine falcons can often be spotted nesting on cliffs or flying along the coastline of Alaska’s Inside Passage.

Experience Alaska Wildlife Up Close

Embark on an unforgettable shore excursion and get closer to wildlife, glaciers, and mountains.

Discover Alaska with Holland America Line

Get a glimpse of the breathtaking beauty and unforgettable adventures that await you on an Alaska cruise.