From the National Geographic Sea Bird in Alaska
May 8, 2012 - National Geographic Sea Bird
Wrangell Narrows and Petersburg, Alaska
After a lumpy night crossing Dixon Entrance, our morning slumber was interrupted by a call for humpback whales. All sleep was soon left aside for thermal underwear and rain coats. Fashion is a low priority when early morning whales are at hand. We enjoyed the luxury of whales and rainbows as the sun rose higher and the rain became a distant thought. Ahead lay Wrangell Narrows, a navigational wonder which at a very low tide lives up to its name. As we threaded the needle through Wrangell Narrows, the exposed mud flats on either side of the ship felt close enough to touch, which meant the wildlife was easy to spot. Sharp eyes and patience brought us a true trial of life: we witnessed a bald eagle carrying the limp body of a recently captured mink. The small weasel was likely taking advantage of the low tide and exposed intertidal bounty when it became fodder for an eagle-eyed raptor. Seeing one predator whisked away by another was a memorable surprise.
Our circuitous route through the nuns (red buoys) and cans (green buoys) eventually led us to the small fishing village called Petersburg. Founded by transplanted Norwegian families, Petersburg built a successful fishing industry packaged and preserved by the ice from nearby LeConte Glacier. With the season just breathing the first breaths of spring, the entire fleet was in port today which made for a colorful harbor scene. While some guests took flight-seeing tours over LeConte Glacier, others marveled at the aerial acrobatics of bald eagles. Petersburg offered endless possibilities for exploration regardless of our preference.