Chatham Strait and Iyoukeen

Jul 23, 2018 - National Geographic Quest


There’s nothing quite like seeing a whale before breakfast, although seeing many whales after breakfast is also pretty amazing. This was how our first full day began in Southeast Alaska. We awoke to a quiet early morning in Basket Bay, just off Chatham Strait. One small humpback whale was lounging around in the water near National Geographic Quest and two Sitka black-tailed deer munched on the grass of the nearby shoreline. Shortly after breakfast, we were joined by a number of humpback whales diving and swimming around the boat for over an hour. Eventually, we headed out towards our afternoon destination and learned some important information about the voyage to come, as well as a general introduction to expedition photography.

After lunch, we anchored near Iyoukeen Peninsula on Chichagof Island. The sunny calm weather was a treat for hikers, kayakers, and stand-up paddleboarders alike. The tranquil bay allowed for travel along the rocky shoreline by kayaks and paddleboards, while the hikers ventured deep into the old-growth forest to find nurse logs sprouting young new trees from fallen elders, and banana slugs roaming the mossy forest floor. Hikers learned to avoid the prickles of the devil’s club bush and look closely for the delicate coral root.

Back on the ship, we enjoyed a dinner of braised short ribs and locally-caught halibut, followed by a relaxing presentation on salmon – a critical component of this entire forest and ocean ecosystem. The sun sets late this time of year, so a long cruise northward with the sunset to the west was an excellent end to a spectacular day.

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About the Author

Ashley Knight

Undersea Specialist

Ashley was raised in the high desert of Sedona, Arizona and escaped to the sea as soon as she was old enough. She developed a love for the oceans when she began scuba diving as a teenager and this has led to a career intertwined with the sea. Her simultaneous career as marine scientist and undersea specialist have given her opportunities to explore the kelp forests of California's Channel Islands, the coral reefs of the Florida Keys, and the rocky reefs of the west coast spanning from Monterey Bay to the Oregon Coast to British Columbia, the fjords of southeast Alaska, and the ultimate cold water of Antarctica.

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