George Island and Inian Islands
  • Daily Expedition Reports
  • 23 Aug 2021

George Island and Inian Islands, 8/23/2021, National Geographic Sea Bird

  • Aboard the National Geographic Sea Bird
  • Alaska

Another morning begins with sun shining on the Fairweather Mountain Range. Their peaks are exposed and lining our view as we pull into George Island. On sunny days like these, the light enters the landscape and the colors pop. Nature’s colors calm the mind, and here we are, immersed in them through morning hikes and kayaks. As I reflect on our view exploring the coast by kayak, I am drawn to the color of this water, its light green-blue, turquoise hues and to the orange-brown flowing curved lines of bull kelp and brown jellies. I look up and admire the varied hues of green from the calming bright color of the alder to the light wintergreen of the Sitka spruce, bold green of the hemlock, and brownish green of the lanky moss lining the exposed branches.

Yet in the end, the glacial turquoise of this water, created by glacial silt or till flowing from nearby glaciers of the Inside Passage, inspires me most. Ocean water absorbs the red spectrum, and glacial silt absorbs deeper blues and indigos we commonly see in open ocean water, leaving the light blues and greens to reflect back to our eyes. Not only is this a beautiful phenomenon to admire, but this glacial silt and sunlight combine to create the rich ecosystem we next went to explore.

We approach the Inian Islands, which mark the opening of the Inside Passage to the Pacific Ocean, as the tide ebbs. Water is rushing out to sea so rapidly that standing waves and eddies form all around us. Within minutes we see the spouts of feeding humpback whales, harbor porpoise coasting by, rafting otters retreating in the kelp, and black-legged kittiwakes flying all around. We turn the corner to find Bird Island covered, not only by birds but hundreds of Stellar sea lions, steaming in the rare sunlight. Moments like these reconnect me with how wild and full of life this place truly is.

Along with this wildlife, humans utilized the productive waters of the Inians and our sheltered anchorage here for 10,000 years before us. Hoonah Tligits came to this area for summer fishing camps and now it is home to the Tidewater Glacier Institute. As we sip on cider, we hear from the institute caretakers about this off-grid facility that hosts students, researchers, and artists, all here to immerse themselves in the surrounding landscape. What a unique opportunity to get a glimpse into this extraordinary Alaskan lifestyle.

No better way to end our evening than to partake in an Alaskan tradition ourselves with Crab Night and crisp Alaskan brews! Full of new memories and morsels, we tuck in for the evening and dream of the adventures to come.

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Glacier Bay National Park, Margerie Glacier

Wild Alaska Escape: Sitka to Juneau


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