Halleck Harbor in Saginaw Bay

Jul 31, 2018 - National Geographic Quest

National Geographic Quest experienced another day of beautiful sunshine in Southeast Alaska. For those guests that were still experiencing some light jet lag, the reward this morning for waking up early was seeing humpback whales feeding and diving along the coastline of Kuiu Island. We also got some glimpses at a couple of sea otters and heard the call of a Pacific loon as the ship coasted into Halleck Harbor before breakfast.

Today was the first day that National Geographic Quest has ever spent an entire day at anchor in one location, doing operations in both the morning and afternoon to maximize the guests’ experience of all that Saginaw Bay has to offer. The most adventurous guests exited the ship first, bushwhacking their way through the forest and around a beaver pond, attempting to find animal trails to lead them back to the beach. The rest of the guests arrived at the beach at a low tide, exploring the harbor by both land and sea. Moderate walkers perused the intertidal zone, finding invertebrates, seaweed, and maybe even a couple of fish if they were lucky! Farther down the beach, some global explorers got a look at fossils from the Paleozoic era embedded in limestone rock along the coastline. Kayakers paddled through kelp forests and Zodiac cruisers watched sea otters clean themselves and munch on delicious mollusks in the morning sun.

After lunch, another round of brave bushwhackers tackled the forest while moderate hikers found themselves encountering a completely different environment at a rising tide. Getting their first introduction to the Tongass National Forest for the week – this section containing a beautiful old-growth forest filled with Sitka spruce and western hemlock trees – they walked around thorny devil’s club bushes and searched for possibly edible berries along bear trails paralleling the beach. Kayakers and paddleboarders explored the perimeter of the bay, and Zodiac cruisers once again ventured outside the bay to possibly view seabirds and other marine mammals along the coastline. The grand finale for the day was a group of humpback whales feeding cooperatively, with a technique known as bubble-net feeding, while the sun set behind them in Chatham Strait.

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About the Author

JIll Niederberger


Jill is an aquatic biologist, naturalist, divemaster, and captain with a love for everything living in and depending on water. Whether sailing catamarans, leading snorkeling tours, or assisting with cetacean field research projects, she enjoys connecting others to the wilderness around them. Her most recent adventures have led her into a focus on marine mammals – those creatures with fur and blubber that defy the odds by living in or depending on an environment in which they cannot breathe.

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