Saginaw Bay & Cruising Chatham Strait

Jul 30, 2019 - National Geographic Quest

After an icy start to our expedition with the glaciers and ice of Tracy Arm and LeConte, today we had our first real taste of the temperate rainforest and coastal ecosystems of Southeast Alaska. Our day started with beautifully misty conditions sailing into Halleck Harbor of Saginaw Bay. Spreading out in all directions from the ship, guests ventured off to experience a wide range of expedition activities. Our naturalists led walks through the forest and the rich exposed intertidal while kayakers were treated to sightings of otters and eagles around the calm waters, while the more adventuresome set out for longer “bushwhack” exploration. Meanwhile, our undersea team donned their warmest layers to explore the cold, nutrient-rich waters below, capturing footage of the spectacular life to bring back to the surface. Among abundant fields of giant plumose anemones, the colorful symbiotic relationships, cryptic camouflage, and gelatinous zooplankton of Southeast Alaska did not disappoint.

Cruising after lunch, it wasn’t long before the outer decks filled to enjoy the lifting clouds and hungry whales. Between wildlife sightings, photo instructor Max Siegal shared tips for smart phone photography. Making our way through Frederick Sound and into Chatham Strait, our original plan was to meet our special guest for the afternoon, Dr Andy Szabo, director of Alaska Whale Foundation and National Geographic Grantee, to share with us about whales of Southeast Alaska. However, given our predicament of being surrounded by humpback whales feeding in the rich waters around us, Dr Szabo agreed to come out to meet us instead, and we adjusted our plans accordingly to listen to Andy’s insight while watching the whales from the bow. There are worse plan B’s one could experience!

We continued with the theme of going with the flow into the evening, taking advantage of the perfect conditions to swap our traditional evening recap for an outdoor cocktail hour on the deck, enjoying the beautiful scenery. As we sailed past waterfalls and diving whales, the light lowered behind the elevation around us and cocktail hour turned to ethereal blue hour to wind down another magnificent day exploring Alaska’s coastal wilderness.

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About the Author

Maya Santangelo

Naturalist/Expedition Diver

Maya was born and raised in Southern California, where her curiosity for the natural world was encouraged from an early age. Relocating to Sydney, Australia with her family at 11 years old, she learned to scuba dive, eventually becoming a PADI Instructor. Her fascination for the underwater world undoubtedly fueled her interest to study marine biology at James Cook University. Working as a professional guide in some of the world’s top dive destinations, including Palau and Mexico’s Guadalupe Island and Revillagigedo Archipelago, Maya realized a passion for sharing her love for the ocean with others, and the value of citizen science in the dive industry.

About the Videographer

Dexter Sear

Video Chronicler

Dexter grew up in England where a love for exploring the countryside ignited a lifelong passion for discovering natural history and embarking on adventure. As a teenager, two trips to India sparked a fascination with insects and a desire to share a “hidden” macro world was born. He produced a popular insect website and authored a reader digest about cultural entomology.

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