Alaska Cruise Report: Ideal Cove and Petersburg

From the National Geographic Sea Bird in Alaska, July 6, 2010

Morning. Quiet. Still. Gray on gray. The color of the clouds matching the color of the ocean. Peaceful. The line between land and sea sometimes visible as a thin dark green band of forest. Other times no line at all, sea and sky becoming one. Ahead a tall gray blow was nearly invisible in the morning air. But keen eyes spotted it and we worked our way closer. Suddenly the humpback whale that was slowly swimming and occasionally diving came up in a huge open-mouth lunge through the water, into the air. We could see the impressive, extended throat pleats as well as glimpses of baleen before it closed its jaws around its morning meal. Again and again. Soon it was time for our morning meal too. But THIS was a fine way to start the day.

Ideal Cove was our morning destination for a hike through the forest, and along the meadow, stream and lake environments. This well maintained trail was actually a boardwalk system that enabled us to keep our feet out of the mud and to protect the sensitive environment we were traversing. Flowers dotted the way and the songs of varied thrush and winter wren let us know we were not alone.

Petersburg, the final stop of the day, introduced us to the fishing heritage and traditions of Southeast Alaska. The National Geographic Sea Bird squeezed into the harbor among many working fishing boats. Today the docks had some open spaces, since it is the middle of the summer and many of the fleet was out at work. We enjoyed strolls and bike rides through this picturesque town, as well as walks along the dock and the nearby bog. A highlight at the bog was the view of a bald eagle nest complete with two eaglets being fed by an adult.

At dinner we had the pleasure of tasting some of the local catch – Dungeness crabs. No sooner had we finished (some of us really hadn’t) when the announcement of killer whales cleared the dining room. We were thrilled to watch two large male killer whales make their way quietly along with tall dorsal fins slicing through the water. We ended our day much the way we started it, on the bow, in awe of whales.

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