After a night cruising through Frederick Sound, National Geographic Quest woke with the rising sun on a morning of beautiful conditions for a day of exploration. Cloudless skies, glassy waters and perfectly morning light accented the magical layers that Alaska’s coastal wilderness held in store for us. Anchored in Security Bay on the west side of Kuiu Island, we headed ashore after breakfast to our first official landing exploring the temperate rainforest ecosystem of Southeast Alaska. Hikers ventured off for natural history walks along the shoreline and into the forest.
The more adventuresome voyagers set out on a bushwhack off trail and prepared for anything – possibilities range from the obstruction nursery logs to be scrambled over to stopping for the occasional berry feast. Kayakers and Zodiac cruisers explored this unique location by water for a different perspective. As the tide rose, we were treated to plentiful sights of sea otters, sea birds, swaying kelp forests and intertidal extremists.
After lunch we set out to cruise Frederick Sound and Chatham Strait in search of wildlife. It wasn’t long before the last of the desserts were gone before we had our first sights of charismatic megafauna. Calm seas made for easy spotting across current lines as countless humpback whales and the occasional Dall’s porpoise broke the surface with large exhalations and speedy wakes. There was no shortage of photo opportunities with close encounters of humpbacks showing off their huge flukes with every dive. To round out our experience with these cetaceans, we were joined by a very special guest, Dr Andy Szabo, director of Alaska Whale Foundation and LEX-NG grantee, who came aboard for the afternoon to share with us about the whales of Southeast Alaska.
Meanwhile, our undersea team set out along the coastline to explore the world below the waves. Beneath the forests of bull kelp, our video lights illuminated some of the most fascinating cryptic, well camouflaged and adapted marine creatures Alaska has to offer. We surfaced just in time for cocktail hour, enjoying appetizers and age-appropriate beverages in front of the spectacular Kasnyku Falls. Some days are better spent outside! Wrapping up another incredible day with a beautiful sunset, we cruise north towards Cross Sound and head to bed eager for tomorrow’s adventures.