Today we awoke to clear skies, light winds, and pleasant temperatures in Holkham Bay as the National Geographic Venture headed toward the Tracy Arm and Ford’s Terror Wilderness Area. Many guests spent time on the bow, enjoying the scenery, taking pictures, and learning about the fascinating geology of the region. As we proceeded up the deep fjord, our naturalists explained the landforms, including the U-shaped valleys visible from the water level, which we learned had been carved by glaciers. The tall peaks that tower thousands of feet above had plenty of snow still, and many cascades flowed down the steep granite cliffs. After a delicious lunch, our hardworking deck crew lowered our expedition landing craft while the bridge officers navigated the vessel between large icebergs of white and blue ice. On small boats, we cruised up the fjord near the face of South Sawyer Glacier, where we observed many harbor seals hauled out on ice. After a warm farewell address from our Expedition Leader Shawn, we cruised down the fjord in excellent light.
National Geographic Quest
Inian Islands and Fox Creek
This morning, National Geographic Quest anchored in the Inian Islands. While wellness specialist Sokie started her early morning stretching class on the sundeck, we had the first surprise of the day – three humpback whales came close to the ship to greet us. After breakfast, Zodiacs were deployed, and we made our way to explore the islands. We went to Bird Island first, a rock full of seabirds, including glaucous-winged gulls, pelagic cormorants, and pigeon guillemots. We passed by an enormous colony of Steller sea lions that came close to the Zodiacs, swimming underneath us and playing with the strong waves and currents. Our guests enjoyed this abundance of life as we continued to the north side where we saw a blow. Two humpback whales were feeding in the area, and Dall’s porpoises moved quickly in the distance. Everywhere we looked was full of life. The whales went for a deeper and longer dive, and while we waited for them to come back up, we saw more blows farther away. This time it was orcas! We got closer and saw a pod of four transient orcas passing. Our guests couldn’t have been happier or more astounded. In the afternoon, we repositioned to Fox Creek to go kayaking and on different hikes. A photo and bird walk were led by photo instructor Iván and naturalist Zoey. Our guests really enjoyed exploring the lush temperate forest. They had opportunities to practice the photography tips learned throughout the voyage and to hear the bird calls they have come to recognize. It was a spectacular day in Southeast Alaska.