For our last full day of exploration in the wilderness of Southeast Alaska, we sailed through the landscape of Tracy Arm-Fords Terror Wilderness. This glacially-carved fjord showcases Alaska at its most dramatic, combining nearly all of the natural history we have seen throughout the trip so far. Our morning began at the mouth of the fjord, the historic extent of the glacier at its largest before it began to recede. National Geographic Sea Bird didn’t make it far beyond this sandbar before the natural history team spotted a pod of killer whales slowly cruising through the milky waters. We watched as the group surfaced in silence along the steep granite cliffs and the old growth forest that fills the valley. We then continued towards the face of South Sawyer Glacier where we anchored, dropped Zodiacs, and cruised among the humbling icebergs that are calved by the glacier into the warm ocean water. Along the way, we encountered gulls, terns, hundreds of hauled out harbor seals, and mountain goats that find refuge in the rock faces around the glacier face. Altogether, it made for a beautiful end to our Alaska experience.
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.