Alaska’s Kenai National Park and Preserve

Jul 20, 2019 - National Geographic Orion

The final day of our epic voyage through Western Alaska ended with a spectacular visit into Kenai Fjords National Park. We sailed up Northwestern Fjord to the tidewater glacier that flows out from the Harden Ice Field: the largest icefield that exists entirely within the United States. Extended Zodiac cruises were punctuated with visits from hot-chocolate-bearing crew members and throaty calving events from the face of the glacier.

After lunch we sailed out of the fjord and into the sunshine. We spent the afternoon watching humpback and fin whales swim amongst the islets of Kenai accompanied with Steller sea lions and Dall’s porpoise. Sea otters made another appearance as they bobbed peacefully by, and even the elusive harbor porpoise showed itself to the select few who could catch a glimpse.

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About the Author

James Hyde

Undersea Specialist

James is a home-grown, free-range Pacific Northwest outdoorsmen. Born in Seattle and reared nearby on Vashon Island, he grew up in and surrounded by the Salish Sea. James has saltwater in his veins, but would be quick to point out we all do, echoing Carl Safina " We are, in a sense, soft vessels of seawater." Born with the travel bug, James was fortunate enough to spend time on four continents before graduating college. During his studies at Western Washington University's Huxley College of the Environment, James went to Australia and visited the Great Barrier Reef. He was never the same. A lifetime of playing in the productive, but opaque green water of the Northwest had offered him little firsthand experience of the creatures below its depths, but with a clear view of the colorful dramas playing out across the bottom of the tropical Pacific, he was hooked. Scuba diving and underwater ecology were solidified as his passion and after college, it took him to a dive shop in Seattle fixing gear, tidepooling with local middle school students, and generally making a spectacle of himself in the surf.

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