Overnight, National Geographic Sea Lion brought us through Wrangell Narrows and Clarence Strait from the town of Petersburg, Alaska to Misty Fjords National Monument. We spent the morning enjoying the views from the decks of National Geographic Sea Lion as we slowly cruised through the fjord. In late morning, we boarded small passenger vessels to explore the area. We watched our ship come through famous Owl Pass, and we got a closer look at the forest, the waterfalls, the salmon, and the eagles. We got an even more intimate experience afterwards when we explored the area by kayaks. We watched as the zombie salmon in the streams fulfilled the last days of their cycle, which is critical to the old growth forest ecosystem. We even got to see a double rainbow over our ship! Later in the afternoon, naturalist and cultural interpreter Sharon Grainger gave a wonderful talk about Native American culture and art. In the evening, we enjoyed the views from the deck as our captain navigated us back through Behm Canal towards Dixon Entrance. Tomorrow, we arrive in Canada!
National Geographic Sea Bird
This morning found us where the Pacific Ocean meets Cross Sound and Icy Strait, the Inian Islands. Named by William Healey Dall, one of Alaska's earliest scientific explorers, in 1879, the Inians are a mecca for wildlife. The powerful tidal currents flowing in and out daily create a tremendous upwelling of nutrient-rich water. This area is where fishing boats from the various ports in the northern portion of the Inside Passage enter and exit. It was a glorious day with calm seas, which allowed us to cruise around the various islands in our Zodiacs drinking in the fantastic scenery and looking for wildlife. Unmissable were the Steller (or northern) sea lions, the largest member of the “eared seals,” first described in 1742 by Georg Wilhelm Steller, the German surgeon and naturalist on the Bering expedition. We saw many of them on “bachelor haul-outs,” rocks where single males of all ages bask, posture and feed on numerous species of fish. Sea otters with pups are just about the cutest animals on the planet! As members of the weasel or mustelid family, southern sea otters are the smallest marine mammal. Like other members of this family, they have very thick fur. In fact, at 850,000 to 1 million hairs per square inch, sea otters have the thickest fur of any mammal. Without blubber to protect them from chilly ocean waters, sea otters rely on their thick fur.