Our day started much earlier than normal with a 1:00 a.m. wakeup call for the northern lights. Many of us donned jackets and hats and walked out on deck to see the incredible dancing green lights in the sky. Our second wakeup call came later in the morning and welcomed us to the Inian Islands, a small collection of islands at the western edge of the northern entrance to the Inside Passage of Southeast Alaska. We anchored in the protected waters of an area known as the Hobbit Hole and took off in our Zodiacs to explore the very active waters of the northern islands during an incoming tide. Steller sea lions, sea otters, and bald eagles were found in abundance today as the early morning sun filtered through the fog, making for quite a magical experience. Back on National Geographic Sea Bird, we spent the afternoon exploring the waters of Icy Strait and looking for humpback whales. We were incredibly fortunate to spend time with a large group of whales near Point Adolphus. Harbor porpoises moved in and out of the waters and we even got to watch a humpback whale calf play with a Steller sea lion – each splashing the other and swimming in circles. After parting ways with the whales, we started making our way north into Lynn Canal for our transit to Haines. We’re in awe of all the wonderful wildlife we saw today and can’t wait for tomorrow!
National Geographic Sea Bird
This morning we woke in Saook Bay with beautifully calm overcast conditions, mist on the mountains, and an intermittent sprinkling of rain. Three brown bears were spotted onshore from the ship’s bow before 7 a.m. by our early-rising naturalist. Several guests joined the early morning observations, while others joined the stretch class with our wellness specialist. After breakfast, kayakers and paddleboarders took to Saook Bay for a peaceful paddle. Global Explorers had a special shore expedition to experience the intertidal zone, where they learned to make kelp horns and rattles. Then we ramped up the energy for both participants and spectators during our exciting Polar Plunge into the cold Southeast Alaskan waters. With everyone back on board to enjoy conversations over lunch, we sailed to a small bay for an afternoon of hiking on the trailhead to Lake Eva. Hiking in the temperate rainforest after this morning’s light rain provided many photo opportunities of water droplets on leaves and moss, fabulous fungi, and vibrant berries. One highlight for everyone on the trail was seeing a mama brown bear with her young cub in the creek. She was catching pink salmon and sharing it with her cub. We even saw them both take short swims. With the excitement of this sighting still fresh on our minds, we then watched a cluster of humpback whales spout and fluke as we approached the fantail of National Geographic Sea Bird. A short while later these same whales began bubble-net and lunge feeding! Wow! There’s just so much to experience here in Southeast Alaska.