Inian Islands & Port Althorp

Jun 30, 2018 - National Geographic Sea Bird

The National Geographic Sea Bird dropped anchor in the lee of a small island; part of the Inian group located in Cross Sound south of Glacier Bay National Park. The anchorage provided some protection but we still felt the motion of the larger swells from the open Pacific nearby. This area is a key outlet to the ocean for ships that travel the Inside Passage and it also provides a pass through which the ebb and flow of tidal currents must squeeze in order to flush the thousands of fjords and minor inlets that exist within the area. This flow is critical to the wildlife, especially salmon who re-enter the area through this narrow gap. Awaiting the fish are hungry Steller sea lions who capture and devour them as they pass. We observed hundreds of these large pinnipeds lying on rocks or swimming nearby as we motored past in our expedition landing craft.

After our morning operations and lunch, we pulled the hook and sailed to Port Althorp, an inlet on the north end of Chichagof Island. Here, we set off for our afternoon adventures on land and in the water. Some hiked deep into the rain forest along a salmon stream. Others took a more casual stroll along the shore observing bear and deer tracks within the intertidal mud. Guests had an opportunity to kayak too, and for those seeking a more challenging assignment there were stand-up paddleboards. Quite a few took up the challenge and paddled in the quiet water while a light rain fell from the Alaskan sky.

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About the Author

Jeffrey Grover


Jeff's early introduction to the science of geology came from exposure to his grandfather’s extensive mineral collection and his vivid stories of work in the mines of Aspen Colorado.  From this informal beginning, Jeff earned degrees in geology from the University of Southern California (B.S.) and the University of Arizona (M.S.) where he focused on tectonics and structural geology.  Upon graduation, he worked as a petroleum geologist, and as an engineering geologist engaged in landslide and earthquake hazard mitigation.  He is licensed as a registered geologist in California.

About the Photographer

James Hyde


James is a home-grown, free-range Pacific Northwest outdoorsmen. Born in Seattle and reared nearby on Vashon Island, he grew up in and surrounded by the Salish Sea. James has saltwater in his veins, but would be quick to point out we all do, echoing Carl Safina " We are, in a sense, soft vessels of seawater." Born with the travel bug, James was fortunate enough to spend time on four continents before graduating college. During his studies at Western Washington University's Huxley College of the Environment, James went to Australia and visited the Great Barrier Reef. He was never the same. A lifetime of playing in the productive, but opaque green water of the Northwest had offered him little firsthand experience of the creatures below its depths, but with a clear view of the colorful dramas playing out across the bottom of the tropical Pacific, he was hooked. Scuba diving and underwater ecology were solidified as his passion and after college, it took him to a dive shop in Seattle fixing gear, tidepooling with local middle school students, and generally making a spectacle of himself in the surf.

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