Dan Olsen

I think we vastly underestimate the complexity and intelligence of the other animals that live with us on this beautiful hunk of ocean-covered rock

Dan, loving his back yard by kayak.

Skookum Glacier in the Kenai Mountains of Alaska in winter.

Because it had to be done. On Kenai Lake, Alaska.

Which way to the ship?

Expedition Leader Dan Olsen

Dan has called Seward, Alaska, his home for nearly 20 years, working as a whale researcher, tour captain, mountain and kayak guide. Years ago, Dan became entranced with the variety of calls of killer whales and returned to graduate school where he dove deep into behavior, movement, diet, and family-specific call dialects. Dan’s obsession with the sea and wilderness began with teaching sailing, kayaking, and mountaineering for Outward Bound, and was also found climbing around the rigging of tall sailing ships, singing chanteys, hauling on lines, and steering by the stars.

Dan has been a licensed boat captain since 1993, and he figures he’s run about a thousand Alaska boat tours showcasing whales, seals, puffin and other seabird colonies, and calving glaciers. In recent years, Dan has driven boats and guided tours for curious travelers in Antarctica, Greenland, Iceland, Northwest Passage, Svalbard, Chile, Panama, Costa Rica, the South Pacific, Europe, and Hawaii.When not working, Dan can be found backcountry skiing, kayaking, juggling, or simply meandering for days in the high trail-less alpine.

DanO’s passion for all aspects of the sea—the ships that sail on it, the whales that inhabit it, the songs that describe it—is unmistakable and infectious. There is no better companion you could have on a voyage.

-Kevin Clement, Alaska

Dan's Expeditions

Bali to Cairns (October 13 – November 1, 2024) green arrow linking to Bali to Cairns

Experience Komodo Dragons, Whale Sharks, Birds of Paradise, and the richest coral reefs on Earth, on an epic traverse across Indonesia’s remote eastern provinces.

British Isles (May 12 – 25, 2025) green arrow linking to British Isles

Discover the remote coastlines of Great Britain and Ireland, exploring geological wonders, archeological sites, and rugged cliffs with teeming seabird colonies.

Ask Dan a question about his upcoming expeditions?

Get in Touch

Culture is Found Among Groups of Killer Whales (Orca)

One of the amazing things about resident Killer Whales in the North Pacific, is that they spend their entire life with their grandmother and mother, and that cultural learning is passed down through generations. We see this in their family calls, in their habitual foraging areas, and in behaviors like beach rubbing. It is often underestimated just how important skills, memory, and local knowledge are to these top predators.