Alaska Cruise Report: The Inian Islands & George Island

From the National Geographic Sea Lion in Alaska, Wednesday, May 26, 2010

At last we are in the northern reaches of our expedition. Icy Straits early this morning, and having a big adventure seeing humpback whales feed in this cold water channel. Due to the cold water of Alaska, there is more dissolved oxygen in it, making it extremely rich in microorganisms, small fish and large fish. Humpback whales make the trip from the Hawaiian Islands up here to feed and to destock their blubber layer. The days become longer, allowing these animals to feed longer. Eventually, at the end of summer, they start heading down again to Hawaii, their breeding grounds.

We had the opportunity of observing up to three individuals feeding simultaneously, one of them definitely a female, as it had a calf, now about six months old, who stayed nearer the surface while the adults did some serious feeding. The youngster frolicked back and forth, while alone at the surface, slapping his pectoral fins, and then, to our surprise, breached completely out of the water three times! That was one happy calf!

After breakfast we were at the external border of the Inians, with a clear view to China! Here we put our Zodiacs in the water, and went off to observe the Steller Sea Lions, with their groaning and moaning sounds, a continuous cacophony… A good series of birds was also seen, all at the area where the ocean tides roar into the island channels: cormorants, different gull species, pigeon guillemots, a few horned puffins, and an incredible number of bald eagles, all looking sternly into the water to take part in the bounty of salmon!

Later in the afternoon we had arrived at George Island, where we hiked, kayaked and took Zodiac tours around the island, watching wildlife, including more humpback whales. The day has been so lovely, without clouds or rain (Alaska sunshine), that late in the afternoon we had some wine and salmon and other amenities on the sundeck!

Interested in this itinerary? View itinerary details on our website…

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