Inian Islands and George Island

Aug 08, 2018 - National Geographic Quest


The Inian Islands offer a truly Alaskan experience. Buffering the Pacific Ocean’s activity, the island archipelago that builds the inside passage sits strongly to the west of the Canadian mainland. As the tide ebbs and flows, strong currents swiftly move among the rocky bottlenecks bringing meals to the diverse community that inhabits this region.

Guests piled into small watercrafts to take to the ocean for a morning Zodiac cruise. Beginning with geologic explanations, naturalists and drivers cruised towards the first wildlife hub near the outer coast. A rookery of Steller sea lions sits near an area of heavy current, waiting for salmon and halibut to get close. The Steller sea lions are the largest species of eared seal worldwide. At 2,400 pounds, the males can reach 12 feet long. The females are significantly smaller, and this species enjoys spending time together on land. Moving on from the Steller sea lions, the vessels rounded the corner to encounter incredible animals that are rarely seen from small boats. Transient killer whales, or biggs killer whales, moved in a small pod towards the sea lion rookery. Three adults, one male, and two females slowly and methodically navigated towards their potential prey. These whales reach a maximum size of roughly 30 feet, with a male dorsal fin rocketing to six feet tall.

The afternoon took the ship towards George Island, a small island with a trail leading to a beautiful outlook. Today’s hike led not only to a gun, stationed in World War II, but the same location offered views of the morning’s killer whales once again. The hike down the hill and back to the beach exposed lichen, nurse logs, and a healthy Southeast Alaskan forest. The beautiful temperate rainforest was lit up with rain, the green shining through lush and full.

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About the Author

Alyssa Adler

Undersea Specialist

As a young marine biologist, Alyssa Adler has had the opportunity to work as a diver in many capacities. For several years, she was a dedicated AAUS scientific diver for University of North Carolina on an offshore reef ecology project, and has participated in several of NOAA’s reef survey missions. She has been diving with National Geographic and Lindblad Expeditions as an underwater videographer and ocean educator since 2014 and has fostered a love for the poles and extreme cold-water diving, spending most of her time underwater in sub-freezing temperatures.

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