Chichagof Island and Inian Islands

Jul 22, 2019 - National Geographic Sea Bird


We woke up to a foggy morning as National Geographic Sea Bird sailed towards Fox Creek and Shaw Islands. From the fog, we could listen to the mysterious exhalations of humpback whales. The day had already started in a special way, and it would continue to be great.

Our first outings were to kayak around Shaw Islands, and to hike in the dense forest of Fox Creek. We continued to see and listen to the blows of distant humpback whales, both from our kayaks and from the shore of Chichagof Island where we were getting ready for hiking. Once in the forest, we were amazed of the variety of flowers, mosses, and more than anything, of edible plants! We foraged beach greens, blueberries, and many multi-colored salmon berries.

During the afternoon, we could explore one of our favorite places in Southeast Alaska. Cross Sound is where we ventured out on our inflatable boats to look for wildlife. Here at Cross Sound there is as wilderness area named Inian Islands. The current around the Inian Islands is incredible, and because of its proximity with the open Gulf of Alaska, this place is teeming with life. We saw many Steller sea lions actively fishing on the surface. Many of them were also behaving in a very playful way. Being the largest species of sea lion in the world, Steller sea lions are quite impressive. Most of the ones we saw where males in the non-breeding areas.

We also had good opportunities so see sea otters. Some were resting on the kelp beds, and others were feeding. We even saw a sea otter devour a large basket star not too far from our boat. Other highlights were the birds that are diverse and abundant. We found an adult bald eagle as it ate a yellow-eye rockfish. We could approach slowly without disturbing it and could get fantastic images of a wild eagle feeding. We were very excited to see unusual bird species like a sooty shearwater that flew around us. Everyone’s favorites were a group of horned puffins, which we got to see really well. Horned puffins are not frequently found here, and today we saw at least six of them in close proximity. There is no doubt that we are lucky to be here, and that by being in a special place, special things happen.

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About the Author

Alberto Montaudon

Naturalist/Certified Photo Instructor

Alberto fell in love with nature as a young child. Born and raised in Tampico, Tamaulipas, Mexico, he spent most of his childhood exploring the Chairlel Lagoon and the Tamesi River. Each morning he would patiently wait in his rowboat for sunrise to witness the great groups of migrating birds that would land on the water. His father taught him from a very early age to understand, love, and respect nature. As a result of his upbringing, Alberto became biologist and decided to follow his passion and became a naturalist. At age 21, Alberto began working with Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic in Baja California. Since then he has been sharing interests that range from bird biology to undersea exploration to wildlife photography with thousands of guests.

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