Port Althorp & Inian Islands

Aug 31, 2019 - National Geographic Sea Bird


Our day started with a very early, with a surprise at 4 a.m. As we slept, a gentle announcement encouraged us to go out on deck to see the aurora borealis. For many of us, this was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Conditions must be just right to result in this fantastic phenomenon of nature.

Later in the morning—at a more civilized time—we explored Port Althorp, a magnificent cove on Chichagof Island, not far from Elfin Cove. We had excellent opportunities to go out and enjoy the calm water, either by paddling a kayak or on a stand-up paddleboard. It was a great introduction to the temperate rainforest of Southeast Alaska, where brown bear activity is evident around every turn. The main reason for so many bear signs was the nearby salmon stream, full of pink salmon and a few chums. What a fantastic thing to see, salmon going upstream, fueling the machine of nature, giving life to the sea, the forest, and most forest creatures.

We enjoyed a marvelous afternoon in the Inian Islands. As half of the group visited the Inian Islands Institute, the other half went out on our boats to search for wildlife, landscapes, and adventure in Cross Sound.

What makes Cross Sound and the Inians such a special place is the abundant wildlife, which gathers to find food in the rich and turbulent waters that enter and exit the Inside Passage with the changing tides. We found Steller sea lions on the rocks and in the water. Steller or northern sea lions are the largest in the world. They are quite impressive, not only for their huge size, but also for their roaring sounds that resemble those of real lions.

We went out into the open water. The tide was changing and it created very strong currents, whirlpools, and eddies. It was very exciting to venture into the currents with our inflatable boats, which are extremely seaworthy. While we had fun in the turbulence, we spotted harbor porpoises surfacing here and there as well as seabirds taking advantage of the currents to find food. We recognized common murres, some rhinoceros auklets, and two species of puffins.

It was a fantastic day, full of adventure and surprise in the Inian Islands and Cross Sound.

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About the Author

Alberto Montaudon

Naturalist/Certified Photo Instructor

Alberto fell in love with nature as a young child. Born and raised in Tampico, Tamaulipas, Mexico, he spent most of his childhood exploring the Chairlel Lagoon and the Tamesi River. Each morning he would patiently wait in his rowboat for sunrise to witness the great groups of migrating birds that would land on the water. His father taught him from a very early age to understand, love, and respect nature. As a result of his upbringing, Alberto became biologist and decided to follow his passion and became a naturalist. At age 21, Alberto began working with Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic in Baja California. Since then he has been sharing interests that range from bird biology to undersea exploration to wildlife photography with thousands of guests.

About the Photographer

Eric Kruszewski

Naturalist/Certified Photo Instructor

An editorial photographer and videographer based in Washington, D.C., Eric Kruszewski's multimedia work focuses on reportage and travel. His work is represented by National Geographic Creative, and he is a regular contributor to National Geographic's Image Collection.

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