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Lighthouse Keeping and Whale Research at Five Finger Lighthouse

For over a century, Five Fingers Lighthouse for illuminated the way for mariners sailing through Frederick Sound. Today the lighthouse is now helping to illuminate the lives of humpback whales. The island is managed by the Juneau Lighthouse Association (JLA) ( whose mission it to upgrade the facility, make the island assessable to the general public, and collaborate with biological researchers.

The tower rises 80 feet above the water and provides a commanding vista of Frederick Sound and surrounding islands. During the summers of 2011-2012 AWF researcher Michele Fornet (OSU) and her volunteers used the tower as an observation platform to record, classify, and decipher the function Alaskan humpbacks ( This summer, AWF is assisting in the installation a live streaming hydrophone built by Cetacean Research Technologies. The hydrophone is designed to be anchored a half mile from the island and send a wireless signal back to the lighthouse.

Each summer, the Juneau Lighthouse Association seeks volunteers to serve as lighthouse keepers on the island. Skilled persons are needed to assist with general maintenance and upgrades including painting and surface preperation, linoleum flooring installation, diesel engine maintenance, plumbing, lawn care, trail brushing, cleaning and sorting tools & materials and hydrophone maintenance and deployment. Lighthouse keepers also maintain radio communications with transiting vessels and greet and visitors to advice on island safety, ecology and cultural history. Duty at Five Finger Lighthouse also includes time for relaxation, fishing, tide-pooling, bird watching, and observing humpback whales, sealions, eagles, seals, otters and wildflowers.

Lighthouse keepers are responsible for their own travel arrangements to and from Juneau. JLA will provide transportation from Juneau to the lighthouse, which includes sleeping quarters, a bathroom, a living and dining room and a newly remodeled kitchen. JLA provides basic foods stuffs and pantry items; volunteers are responsible for brining their own meat and fresh vegetables and must be attentive to water and energy conservation.

For more information contact Dr. Fred Sharpe at or Jennifer Kline at:

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