Saginaw Bay and Cruising Chatham Strait

Jun 18, 2019 - National Geographic Quest


This morning, we awoke to the sound of the anchor dropping in Halleck Harbor, a small cove of Saginaw Bay on Kuiu Island. Looking outside through the mist was the rocky white shoreline studded with small stretches of pebbly beaches. After stretches, coffee, and breakfast, we took to the land. Some groups decided to explore the forest with a temperate rainforest bushwhack, taking the paths less travelled through some of the low lying areas of the surrounding island. They encountered beaver dams, bear prints, and lots of branches and logs. At the end of three hours in the forest, they spilled out on the beach to find the rest of the group gathering after a morning of kayaking through the bay and exploring the tidepools of the coastline. The shore at low tide revealed a variety of animals to those who explored by sea or by land: sea stars, jellyfish, kelp, and anemones. The divers also explored the sea, even deeper, by going for a scuba dive off a point near the ship’s anchorage.

Everyone deserved the generous lunch with delicious cookies and cobbler for desert before relaxing into an afternoon of whale watching. Not long after leaving Saginaw Bay, humpback whales were spotted off the bow and continued to appear as we navigated from Frederick Sound into Chatham Strait. We headed north with them, as though they were leading us to the small research station of the Alaska Whale Foundation tucked into Warm Springs Bay. At the research station, Dr. Andy Szabo joined the ship to explain these incredible marine mammals and to answer the many questions about them that are inevitable to form from watching them all day long. Even after his departure, whales continued to interrupt cocktail hour and recap with their breaching, tail slapping, and pectoral fin waving. Always a welcome and amusing disturbance!

Finally, after a dinner of locally caught halibut and rack of lamb (or the pizza party for the younger crowd) and a desert of poached pears, we continued up Chatham Strait in search of the next spectacular day in Southeast Alaska.

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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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