The Keku archipelago is full of life, and we found all manner of excitement during our morning exploring these islands in our expedition Zodiacs. Marbled murrelets, belted kingfishers, pigeon guillemots, and bald eagles flew nearby as we poked our noses into all the nooks and crannies of the islands covered in forest and flowers. Jellies and pteropods floated through the kelp forest while sea otters and harbor seals bobbed around nearby, but the humpback whales gorging themselves on bait balls just offshore truly stole the show. It was truly a case of not knowing where to look, but not really caring because there was something magical to see in every direction! After lunch, some of our more daring guests went for a dip in the chilly waters before we started heading out to Frederick Sound where we may have had the highlight of the day: we found some northern resident killer whales from the R5 matriline! We watched this family group for a while before going our separate ways in the peaceful, flat, calm waters.
National Geographic Quest
National Geographic Quest arose amidst light clouds within the protected waters of Ushk Bay. This area is known for a salmon stream and yields plenty of opportunity for kayaking and exploring the vast meadows of its inner waterways. On this day’s occasion, guests were able to hike and paddle their way along the coast of Ushk Bay and witness firsthand the life cycle of Pacific salmon making their way upstream. As we transited through Peril Strait, we were lucky to see humpback whales. These immense mammals were “lunge feeding” very near our ship. Being able to witness this event was unique for guests and staff. Lunge feeding is process through which individual whales push their gaping mouths through the surface and collect any fish or planktonic invertebrates in the process. Witnessing this behavior was truly a remarkable experience for all. We will cherish this moment for a lifetime.