Japan/Hokkaido: Shiretoko NP – Whale Watching & Kunashir Views

This was perhaps one of the best whale watching wildlife experiences – a three hour long boat trip starting in the town of Rausu in the eastern side of the Shiretoko Peninsula and cruising in the strait separating Japan from the Russian Kurils and the island of Kunashir. The strait is a mere 40km wide and it acts as a marine highway for marine mammals and fish congregating and hunting here. Sightings included two humpback whales, eight dolls porpoises (small toothed whales found only here in the northern Pacific), and five sperm whales (next post). All this while cruising along the Kunashir Island, getting to within 20km to it and within meters of the Russian territorial waters. I could clearly see the Stolbchatiy Cape, Mendeleev and Golovnin volcanoes, and the coastline on Kunashir where I hiked and climbed just a couple weeks prior. Surreal!