Salt and the smell of freshly processed fish graced our noses this morning as National Geographic Quest came alongside the small fishing community of Petersburg, Alaska. Commercial fishing boats were lined up and ready for the upcoming fishing season; many slips were empty, however, as some vessels had already made their way to the productive Southeast Alaskan waters. We saw many fishermen and women loading up crab pots, repairing squidding nets, and most notably, rolling up gill nets in preparation for the approaching salmon runs. Some of our guests strolled into town, while several took to the bicycles provided for a scenic tour of this beautiful island town.
Petersburg, Alaska is home to an interesting environment that few would associate with this area of the world – the muskeg. Muskeg ecosystems are similar to peat bogs in that their waters have become acidic over time due to poor drainage. Many forest dwelling species cannot survive in an environment as harsh as this, which leaves room for other organisms to occupy the space. By far, the most peculiar are the carnivorous sundews that use adhesive liquid to trap unsuspecting insects. A truly unique area to explore during this morning’s operations.
Our afternoon destination was Five Finger Lighthouse, just a few hours outside of Petersburg. The lighthouse provides a necessary service to all vessel traffic along the Alaskan Marine Highway. Today, however, the keepers were kind enough to show our guests around the small island, and they even allowed us to peek inside the lighthouse proper! Our evening was spent sipping cocktails and watching a group of bubble-net feeding humpback whales as they gallivanted about on the calm seas. An incredible way to spend the day.