This was a day of diversity, with weather ranging from fog to sun to hail, and outings from sea to land to sky. We started with an early morning Zodiac outing in LeConte Bay, a scenic spot with numerous icebergs that have traveled down from LeConte Glacier which lies at the head of the bay. People from the nearby town of Petersburg once collected ice from this bay, hauling it to the town to use in the cannery. As one of the most actively retreating glaciers, LeConte continues to produce a significant amount of icebergs. We cruised amidst the ice, with gulls, murrelets, and the occasional harbor seal for company. Fog shrouded
National Geographic Venture
as the first round of Zodiacs returned, but all made it back without a problem, GPS in hand.
After brunch, a talk on the coastal temperate rainforest informed us about the ecology, flora, and fauna of the surrounding forests. This biome comprises only two percent of the world’s forests and is a unique and lush environment, dominated by Sitka spruce and western hemlock.
Petersburg was the setting for our afternoon activities, a bustling little town on the edge of Mitkof Island. There we had a variety of options, including the chance to explore a prime example of a temperate rainforest, with a walk through the forest to a muskeg, a bog with stunted shore pines. The bog plants of the muskeg include the insectivorous sundew, a small but brilliant red plant nestled in the sphagnum moss. The afternoon included an opportunity for a photo outing, as well as a walk along the dock to learn more about the fishing and crabbing that takes place in the harbor. Flightseeing was another option, and several people took the opportunity to see Southeast Alaska’s mountains and glaciers from the air.
Recap included an otter demonstration of how to eat a crab, whether you are otter or human. Afterwards, we had the chance to savor local Dungeness crab at a delicious and wonderfully messy crab feast, a fun and filling end to the day.