Transiting back and forth into Tracy Arm over the course of a day provides a unique time travel experience. We witness not just the path of the glacially carved fjords but the succession of vegetation that has taken hold on these towering walls. At the mouth of this waterway, we see the future of the landscape, tall Sitka spruce and Western hemlock reaching high and jostling with neighbors for access to the light. As we progress, the alder starts to appear, nestling into any crevice or patches of moss that can support roots, collecting substrate. In the present we reach the force of change, the impressive South Sawyer Glacier, a river of compressed snow and ice that has been pushing its way through mountains to reach the ocean. Like a temporal yo-yo the National Geographic Sea Lion travels this winding route of splendor, absorbing all the wonders we pass along the way.
National Geographic Sea Bird
Today we woke up to a gorgeous day here in Southeast Alaska aboard National Geographic Sea Bird . The waters were glass calm as we enjoyed a delicious breakfast. Right as we were finishing up, the bridge spotted a lone male orca swimming around us. We all went out on the bow and were able to see the massive six-foot dorsal fin of the world’s largest dolphin species as it swam around the ship. After we watched this majestic creature fade into the distance, we began our sail up the breathtakingly beautiful Endicott Arm fjord. This area is hard to put into words. We sailed past icebergs with granite walls rising 3,000 feet out of the water directly on either side of the vessel. Waterfalls cascaded down from hidden snowfall and hanging glaciers. Glacial silt coming from the rock flows and mixes with the sea, creating a beautiful green hue in the ocean. Shayne, our Certified Photo Instructor, gave a presentation on smartphone photography and taught us all the settings for these incredible devices. It could not have come at a better time as the Dawes Glacier came into view. After a wonderful lunch, we headed out in our expedition landing crafts to explore the ice field in front of the glacier. Being this close to icebergs and the face of an active tidewater glacier is life changing. The blue of the ice, the crackling of icebergs, the haul outs of harbor seals, and the crash of calving is an experience that will not soon be forgotten. Back on the ship, we were treated to yet another amazing meal before heading into the lounge for a dual presentation by Naturalist Frankie Wilton and Certified Photo Instructor Shayne Sanders. They taught us about "The Story of Southeast Alaska" by talking about the important forest ecology and how to incorporate composition to capture this magic through the lens. It was an amazing first day, and we cannot wait for what is to come.