Today we explored Glacier Bay, a long and wild embayment running 65 miles into the mainland at the northwestern corner of the Alaska Panhandle. The national park, together with connecting northward parks, preserves, and wilderness in both the US and Canada, comprise a UNESCO World Heritage Site. At 25 million acres, it is one of the largest contiguous wilderness areas on the planet. Formed by repeated advances and retreats of the Grand Pacific Glacier and its tributary glaciers, which are fed by massive ice fields in the surrounding coast ranges, the bay is a terrific area for wildlife and wild landscapes.
National Geographic Quest
Inian Islands and Fox Creek
This morning, National Geographic Quest anchored in the Inian Islands. While wellness specialist Sokie started her early morning stretching class on the sundeck, we had the first surprise of the day – three humpback whales came close to the ship to greet us. After breakfast, Zodiacs were deployed, and we made our way to explore the islands. We went to Bird Island first, a rock full of seabirds, including glaucous-winged gulls, pelagic cormorants, and pigeon guillemots. We passed by an enormous colony of Steller sea lions that came close to the Zodiacs, swimming underneath us and playing with the strong waves and currents. Our guests enjoyed this abundance of life as we continued to the north side where we saw a blow. Two humpback whales were feeding in the area, and Dall’s porpoises moved quickly in the distance. Everywhere we looked was full of life. The whales went for a deeper and longer dive, and while we waited for them to come back up, we saw more blows farther away. This time it was orcas! We got closer and saw a pod of four transient orcas passing. Our guests couldn’t have been happier or more astounded. In the afternoon, we repositioned to Fox Creek to go kayaking and on different hikes. A photo and bird walk were led by photo instructor Iván and naturalist Zoey. Our guests really enjoyed exploring the lush temperate forest. They had opportunities to practice the photography tips learned throughout the voyage and to hear the bird calls they have come to recognize. It was a spectacular day in Southeast Alaska.