Thursday, May 07, 2009

First "Cruise with Purpose" Shore Excursion

Juneau's local tour operator Gastineau Guiding has created the first Cruise with Purpose shore excursion, in partnership with the Alaska Sea Grant's Marine Advisory Program and the Alaska Marine Conservation Alliance.

This program was designed especially for Holland America Line. Guests board an exploration vessel out of Auke Bay to look for and help document individual humpback and orca whales. Guests will identify individual whales by their tail "fingerprints" and record their songs using an underwater microphone called a hydrophone. Participants will also collect water samples, trawl for plankton and record ocean temperature readings.

Since plankton is a significant indicator in predicting the success of Alaska's salmon runs, this data will help manage this precious wild resource. All collected data and water samples are contributed to the body of research maintained by Alaska Sea Grant's Marine Advisory Program. The beach landing vessel will then make a one-hour stop at a secluded cove or shoreline where guests then turn into volunteer beachcombers. A naturalist-guide provides interpretation on the flora and fauna of the area as guests help pick up any non-native debris in support of the Alaska Marine Conservation Alliance's efforts.

The cost of this tour is $219 per person. At the tour's conclusion, guests receive a Cruise with Purpose VolunTour pin, and will be able to track the projects they contributed to at the program's web page The tour is available from May to September.

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