Cruising Chatham Strait & Iyoukeen Bay

Aug 04, 2019 - National Geographic Quest


Sundays are usually considered to be a day of laziness and sleep-ins. Not onboard National Geographic Quest, however, and especially not in Southeast Alaska. Most wake up calls certainly do not include suggestions to come out to the bow with your morning coffee to watch humpback whales. The fact that this is something that could be considered “normal” makes it all the more special. As the parting clouds let the morning light perfectly accent the layers of Alaska’s coastal wilderness, we were treated to the sounds and sights of humpbacks enjoying their Sunday morning in these rich waters. It wasn’t long before lazy flukes, exhales and dives amongst the current lines turned into a spectacular show of bubble rings, logging, pectoral fin slapping and repeated breaching behavior. An absolutely amazing start to our first day!

After presentations about operations and expedition photography, we made our way into the calm corner of Iyoukeen Bay, the site of our first landing. Taking Zodiacs to shore after lunch, groups set out for hikes through the beautiful temperate rainforest, exploring everything from spectacular nursery logs to bear scratch trees and banana slugs, while others kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding were treated to clear skies and even clearer water. Meanwhile, our undersea team set out along the coastline to explore the world below the waves. The clear visibility was the least interesting thing about our dive here, as our video lights illuminated some of the most fascinating cryptic and well camouflaged marine creatures that Alaska has to offer. Wrapping up an incredible first day exploring Alaska’s coastal wilderness, we enjoyed our evening recap and learning all about Alaska from a “raven’s eye view” in a presentation by naturalist Chelsea Behymer. Cruising north towards Cross Sound we finally head to bed eager for tomorrow’s adventures!

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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.

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