Inian Islands & Elfin Cove

Jul 26, 2019 - National Geographic Sea Bird


The day dawned cloudy and slightly misty—true Alaskan weather! We had sailed through the night from Kelp Bay and Chatham Strait and arrived in Icy Straits in early dawn. We ducked into Idaho Inlet to explore for wildlife on the shore, and spotted Sitka black-tailed deer grazing in the grasses. In the water around us, we spotted blows of humpbacks and grew excited when we saw several humpbacks feeding and swimming in the area. A few sea otters cruised by on their backs, and seabirds bobbed in the water.

After a hearty breakfast, we suited up and went cruising in the Inian Islands. Several guests witnessed an amazing display of energy from a pod of transient orcas that were chasing a Steller sea lion. Others explored along the shoreline and found Steller sea lions and black-legged kittiwakes. Bald eagles sat in the trees, watching overhead, and pigeon guillemots bobbed on the water catching sand lances. We were surprised when mother and calf humpback whales surfaced near our expedition landing crafts. It was an amazing start to our day!

Afterward, we returned to the ship for a class on smartphone photography and a delicious lunch. Mary Jo from Elfin Cove came on the ship to talk about the remote town, and afterward, we headed ashore to George Island for a forest hike. We explored both nature and the human WWII history of the place. Then we headed into the village to visit the museum and general store. 

Heavy clouds formed during dinner, creating a dramatic landscape. We closed off the evening with dessert while listening to a presentation on Forest Succession by one of the naturalists on board.

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About the Author

Brenda Tharp

Naturalist/Certified Photo Instructor

For over 20 years, Brenda has used her photographs of the world to celebrate its beauty, and inspire others to protect what we have. Brenda grew up exploring the woods, lakes, and coastlines of New Jersey and New England and her family traveled regularly throughout the eastern U.S., camping, hiking, backpacking, and canoeing. She spent most of her childhood engaging with nature in some form or another and learning about animal behavior. When her father taught her some photography at 13, Brenda soon combined her love for nature with her newfound passion, and several years later her adventure began as a freelance photographer, teacher, and writer.

About the Videographer

Mark Coger

Video Chronicler

Growing up in a military family, Mark Coger has been traveling most of his life.  While living in Japan, he developed his passion for videography.  He began his venture in the field of video production by filming numerous events for a local high school and the military community before moving to Southern California, where he obtained his degree in filmmaking at California State University Northridge.  From there, he went on to produce and direct his first major short film, An American Journalist which was screened at the Method Film Festival.

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