We had an amazing day in one of our favorite places today, the Inian Islands. We started off knowing it was going to be a spectacular day when we received an early wakeup call by our expedition leader to inform us that orcas were swimming under our bow. This orca pod had the cutest little baby with them, and it continued to surface high out of the water. We also saw some tail-slapping from the pod, all before breakfast! We boarded Zodiacs and watched Steller sea lions catch fish in the currents ripping through these islands. We watched the sea lions rip apart salmon and rockfish, and they came over to our boats to check us out. As if that wasn’t special enough, we saw humpback whales in large groups and listened to them vocalize. After lunch, we went to Fox Creek for hiking and kayaking. The hike focused on wildflowers, bear tracks, bear scratching posts, and adventure, while we focused on invertebrates, kelps, and leisure while kayaking. It was a well-rounded afternoon.
National Geographic Sea Bird
This morning we woke in Saook Bay with beautifully calm overcast conditions, mist on the mountains, and an intermittent sprinkling of rain. Three brown bears were spotted onshore from the ship’s bow before 7 a.m. by our early-rising naturalist. Several guests joined the early morning observations, while others joined the stretch class with our wellness specialist. After breakfast, kayakers and paddleboarders took to Saook Bay for a peaceful paddle. Global Explorers had a special shore expedition to experience the intertidal zone, where they learned to make kelp horns and rattles. Then we ramped up the energy for both participants and spectators during our exciting Polar Plunge into the cold Southeast Alaskan waters. With everyone back on board to enjoy conversations over lunch, we sailed to a small bay for an afternoon of hiking on the trailhead to Lake Eva. Hiking in the temperate rainforest after this morning’s light rain provided many photo opportunities of water droplets on leaves and moss, fabulous fungi, and vibrant berries. One highlight for everyone on the trail was seeing a mama brown bear with her young cub in the creek. She was catching pink salmon and sharing it with her cub. We even saw them both take short swims. With the excitement of this sighting still fresh on our minds, we then watched a cluster of humpback whales spout and fluke as we approached the fantail of National Geographic Sea Bird. A short while later these same whales began bubble-net and lunge feeding! Wow! There’s just so much to experience here in Southeast Alaska.