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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