Port Althorp and Inian Islands

Jun 04, 2019 - National Geographic Venture


When the tide is out, the table is set! All on board National Geographic Venture have heard this local bit of knowledge, but this morning we all had the opportunity to see it with our own eyes! As we approached Port Althorp, Sitka black-tailed deer were along the shore in the rye grass chewing on breakfast. A pair of brown bears were in the back of the meadow doing the same thing. A humpback whale was slowly cruising deep into the bay, stopping to sub-surface lunge-feed along the shore. The bounty was everywhere, and everybody was busy taking it all in!

With the low tide, we walked the mud flats to find proof of the animals that live here. Brown bear paw prints were in abundance, as were prints from deer and geese. Clams, mussels, scallops, worms, and barnacles strewn throughout the littoral zone, waiting to become breakfast. To be believed, the profundity of life here must be experienced in person.

The Inian Islands offer another lesson in the richness of the surrounding waters. Literally hundreds of Steller sea lions hauled out on the rocks along the shoreline. Bald eagles by the dozens await the bounty that the changing tide will bring. Pelagic cormorants go about the business of building nests on sheer cliff walls to have and fledge chicks in the short summer season here. Sitka spruce and western hemlock spring from those very same cliffs. Life finds a way, and here in Southeast Alaska we find an abundance of life!

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About the Author

Michael Nolan

Naturalist/Certified Photo Instructor

Michael Nolan was born in Bitburg, Germany to an Air Force family stationed there. His first experience of the ocean came at age 12, when he learned to snorkel in the Italian Mediterranean. At age 17 he moved to Tucson, Arizona and became a PADI SCUBA instructor, before starting a SCUBA diving business that specialized in diving trips to the Sea of Cortez.

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