From the National Geographic Sea Bird in Alaska July 8, 2010
At the mouth of Icy Straights, where the waters of Alaska’s Inside Passage meet the Gulf of Alaska, there is a very special place. Deep waters move to shallower areas, and wide seas give way to narrow channels. As tremendous tides move in and out twice each day, upwelling currents are created that bring nutrients to the surface, creating the base for a fabulously rich marine food chain. It is here that we went on Zodiac cruises this morning.
There were many participants in the feast this foggy day. Otters floated on their backs, holding their toes out of the water. Stellar sea lions swam in their graceful energetic way, lifting their heads to give us curious looks. Some were catching pink salmon, a few of the thousands on an incoming run, and we watched them shaking and gulping their prey while gulls swooped attentively, hoping for a scrap. Tufted puffins floated in a raft nearby, and flew. Bald eagles adorned the rocky shoreline. Diving sea birds were there in force. It was a lively and active place, made mysterious by the fog.
Moving inland at lunchtime, we soon left the fog behind, and found ourselves blinking in the light of a full, blue sky, sunshine day. Sparkling water, tree clad slopes and snow topped mountains were to be the background for our afternoon activities: hikes and walks and kayaking. Dragonflies and wildflowers, ferns and moss, tall spruce trees and low boggy meadows rewarded our walking efforts. And paddling, as always, provided a peaceful way to travel between unexpected moments; a jellyfish wafting by, a murrelet diving, a sea lion, a starfish on the rocks.
A large and hearty group decided to punctuate their day outdoors with an exclamation-producing plunge in the cold waters of Idaho Inlet. The water temperature was measured at 47 degrees. One could say the swimmers earned their certificates, which read in part: “In recognition for a bold sense of adventure, stylish bathing attire, ability to laugh at hypothermia and a total lack of common sense…”
At what point in a fabulous day is it time to say “enough”? Not just yet, it seems, as daylight is long at this latitude, and we are exploring likely waters after dinner in hopes of yet another humpback show.
Interested in this Alaskan cruise? View itinerary details…