What a spectacular first morning aboard the National Geographic Sea Lion! Our expedition leader Sheri woke us early, with 6:30 a.m. news of killer whales ahead. We dressed warm and mustered on-deck, greeted by the soft blows and towering dorsal fins of the ocean’s top predator. Spread out over all points of the compass, these killers were probably a diffuse pod of “residents,” or fish-eaters – no doubt in close sonic communication despite their seemingly long distance from one individual to another. Soon, a second marine mammal joined the show: a humpback whale. No sooner had we seen its first blows than the whale leapt bodily out of the ocean. A breach! Its 40-ton bulk slapped down on the surface with a massive splash, drawing gasps from the adults and screams of delight from the kids. Again and again it showed its tail flukes in a deep dive, then exploded straight up out of the water like a torpedo, breach after breach. We watched, awestruck, unable to pull away even when breakfast was called. Finally, leaving these magnificent cetaceans to their business, we ducked into Hood Bay. Hopefully nobody joined this expedition for the great views of the solar eclipse, as Southeast Alaska’s classic rain and fog obscured our view of the heavens – yet moments after the supposed eclipse maximum, we spotted a brown bear ambling on the shore.