Petersburg & Snow Pass

Sep 09, 2017 - National Geographic Sea Bird


Days like today are why you come to Alaska. We began the morning by tying to the docks of Petersburg, a town too small to accommodate the larger cruise ship industry. Thus, the heart of the town remains, and one gets a sense from conversing with the local fishermen just how dedicated they are to the lifestyle that others might call a job. Our guests took dock walks to learn of the specifics and economics of the commercial fishing industry, while others took to the muskeg to learn about the bog ecosystems of the temperate rainforest.

Boarding our ship for an afternoon of searching for marine mammals, we struck gold…perhaps, literally. Because, at the end of the rainbow, we began to see multiple columnar blows in a close grouping, a sign that humpback whales were cooperative feeding. Approaching with wonder, the rainbow grew brighter and so did our hope to see one of the most spectacular events available to witness in nature. The whales did not disappoint: calling out to the hydrophone we had in the water before lunging to the surface for a mouthful of their prey. The sky grew spectacular, and we held to the bow even as the rain fell hard and the light grew low. It is not often that one gets to witness nature in such raw spectacle.

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About the Author

Paul North

Undersea Specialist

Paul North is the founder of the educational nonprofit Meet the Ocean and host of its online podcast. As a polar diver with Lindblad Expeditions/National Geographic, he tours the remote underwater landscapes of Antarctica and other sub-zero destinations to emphasize the importance, diversity, and unexpected color of the invertebrate kingdom.

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