If we only had one day in Southeast Alaska, today would have been the one. Fortunately we had six days of marvelous experiences here, but today was a wonderful “Grand Finale” to our expedition. Our morning was spent taking in the temperate rainforest of the Tongass National Forest on Chichagof Island at Iyoukeen Bay and exploring the shore waters by kayak and Zodiac, with a full immersion experience by some of our Global Explorers.
We made good use of our remaining time as, navigating toward the entrance to Peril Strait and ultimately to Sitka for our departure, scouring the shoreline and distant waters ahead for wildlife. Our efforts did not disappoint! We managed to spot a lone humpback whale feeding actively on the dense schools of herring. This 40-ton giant was taking shallow dives, blowing an ensnaring ring of bubbles below the surface to confuse and condense the herring and then thrusting its massive bulk in the middle of the ring. With its massive mouth and rostrum breaking the surface, lower mandible opened wide and ventral pouch expanded, this goliath of the deep gorged itself on the tiny but abundant little herring. Later as we entered the strait we were fortunate enough to get extensive views of separate sets of coastal brown bears with their cubs scouring the tidal zone for marine invertebrates. The female bruins will spend nearly two and a half years tending to their young, teaching them as much as one can about the ways of life and survival in the temperate rainforests of Southeast Alaska.
In the evening we all gathered in the lounge for our farewell cocktail reception and recap. A few words from Captain David Sinclair would be followed by an award ceremony led by naturalist Steve Zeff for our Global Explorers and an amazing musical composition from Steve titled “Southeast Alaska from A to Z”, which appropriately concluded and with a standing ovation.