George & Inian Islands

Jun 15, 2018 - National Geographic Sea Lion


Today, we explored the thriving and wild region situated at the northwestern end of the fabled Inside Passage, spanning U.S., world and natural history. Our morning was spent on the granite-cored George Island where, during the early part of World War II, a defensive gun emplacement was manned as a possible deterrent against Japanese naval forces making an assault on Southeast Alaska. 

Now reclaimed by the forest, the island leaves only the faintest remains of the former outpost and its one lone 6” French-made Mark X artillery piece. In several small groups, we fanned out to explore this island by kayak and hiked its well-maintained trails and combed the seashore, taking in the breathtaking scenery in panoramic fashion. 

For the afternoon, an all-encompassing small-boat cruise around the Inian Islands helped instill a deep appreciation for the influence of tides and currents on this dynamic ecosystem. Twice daily, incoming flood tides engulf this archipelago. bringing with them the rich abundance found in these waters closer to the surface. 

Seeking out this regular influx of abundance are the major players of the marine world -- from the charismatic sea otter, massive Steller sea lions, and humpback whales. Meanwhile, American bald eagles, black-legged kittiwakes, glaucous-winged gulls, and many other seabirds pick off the scraps left from feeding sea lions, and prey on the fishes tossed and turned by these raging currents. Today, our currents were roughly 7 knots, creating standing waves stacking up as the two masses of water collided in this daily ballet of life that played out right in front of our eyes.

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About the Author

Doug Gualtieri

Naturalist

Doug Gualtieri has worked as a Naturalist interpretive guide for over 20 years, beginning his career in Denali National Park and Preserve at a remote wilderness lodge leading hikes and giving lectures on the ecology and wildlife of that region. Later he began leading Lindblad Expeditions land extensions to Denali in 2002 and has worked with Lindblad in some form or another ever since. With a background in Biology and a lifelong passion for the natural world Doug moved to Talkeetna, Alaska in 1999 from his home state of Michigan, and never looked back.

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