This morning our expedition ship brought us to an anchorage in a sheltered cove of the Inian Islands. These islands reside within Icy Strait, so named by explorer George Vancouver in 1794 for the massive amounts of glacial ice choking this passage during his voyage. Today the ice is gone, but the fjord is still an area of intensive oceanic and wildlife activity. Strong tidal changes create conditions ideal for Steller sea lions, bald eagles, sea otters, and gulls to capture prey. The clouds ebb and flow like the tides, sometimes bringing rain, sometimes bringing rays of sunshine.
National Geographic Sea Bird
It rained today. It rained all day. It’s Southeast Alaska—it’s supposed to rain. We’ve been spoiled by the last two days of warm sunshine but the return to a more normal temperate rainforest day didn’t hamper our excitement. Today was a day of adventure, today we went somewhere new. Somewhere our expedition leader, Sarah Friedlander, picked out on a map based on topography and what little information she could gather. We explored the Etolin wilderness today, and it did not disappoint. We spent our morning kayaking amongst thousands of moon jellies and then ventured in Zodiacs up a stream teeming with pink salmon. We then continued north to Steamer Bay where we were able to hike along the margins of an active salmon stream, and across meadows filled with evidence of bear activity and into old growth forest. The salmon carcasses were everywhere, having been transported by birds and bears away from the stream. Traffic jams of pink salmon backed up at forks in the rapids, all pushing up the current. The wildlife was as abundant as the rain. We were all soaked through by the end of the day, but it was so very worth it to see Alaska in this way: wild, pristine, untouched. Absolutely the best day of the season.