Early morning promised to provide some relief from the wet weather experienced over the past two days. Sunlight streamed through scattered clouds as National Geographic Quest sailed south from Petersburg toward the Keku Islands, west of the small town of Kake, Alaska. Promise delivered: we had sunshine and just about everything else Mother Nature could throw at us as we kayaked and toured by Zodiac within the calm waters of the Kake island chain. By midmorning, the clouds were back. A short but intense rain and hailstorm pummeled both guests and guides as we paddled and Zodiac cruised along the coastline. No matter, as this is all in a day’s work for anyone exploring the wild coast of this temperate rainforest. And as they say: “If you don’t like the weather, just wait ten minutes, and it’ll change!” It did, and the wind dropped enough for our young Global Explorers to learn the skills required to drive the Zodiacs. Adventures completed, we returned to the ship for lunch and some downtime before afternoon cruising.
We sailed west through Frederick Sound and followed a single humpback whale feeding placidly mid-channel. Before moving off, it dove deep, showing the underside of its tail flukes. This provided whale researcher and naturalist Amy Venema an opportunity to make a positive identification by matching the “fingerprint” pattern on the fluke to a database at the Happy Whale website. We learned that this whale was last seen, or at least recorded, in Alaskan waters back in 2004!
Around four o’clock, we arrived off the coast of Warm Springs Bay on Baranof Island where we met Dana Bloch of the Alaska Whale Foundation. Dana spoke to us about her research on humpback feeding behaviors and the interplay between humpback whales and a healthy marine ecosystem.