At Sea, Aleutian Islands

Jul 27, 2019 - National Geographic Orion


A day at sea is like a blank slate: Anything is possible. This is especially the case in the Aleutian Islands, where oceanic remoteness and marine life often reward wildlife observer handsomely.

Our morning took us leisurely through the Andreanof Islands, a scenic stretch of the Aleutians with a chapter in the regions WWII legacy. Adak Island once served as the launch point for military operations on the nearby islands of Kiska and Attu, the only U.S. soil ever occupied by foreign forces.

In addition to their historic context, the Andreanof Islands also protect coastal species of birds and marine mammals as part of the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge. Within these waters we got a glimpse of avian and marine mammals large and small. From tiny whiskered auklets bouncing in groups across the water, to Laysan albatross gliding overhead, to a group of unusual killer whales there was life abound.

The unusual member of this group of killer whales was a male with a fully curled dorsal fin. Normally between five and six feet when erect, this individual had its dorsal length rolled up, like a fruit roll-up! Seemingly unphased, this male and his pod went about their business long enough for us to get close looks before continuing with our business of a westward transit towards Kiska Island tomorrow.

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About the Author

Eric Guth

Naturalist/Certified Photo Instructor

Eric began work with Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic in 2006 as a means to see the world, work with great photographers and engage his environmental studies degree beyond the classroom. His initial years with the company were spent working the waters of Southeast Alaska and Baja California. His move to the National Geographic Explorer in 2008 helped earn him the experience and knowledge needed to establish himself as a trusted boat handler, naturalist and respected photographer in nearly all the environments Lindblad-National Geographic travels.

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