Alaska Cruise Report: Ioukeen Cove

From the National Geographic Sea Bird in Alaska August 26, 2010

The best laid plans of mice and men. They can be dashed when it comes to an expedition. The plan was to look for the bubblenet warriors (humpback whales) near Ioukeen Cove and then enjoy a chance to kayak and walk in the same area. The warriors had a different idea. Once they started their famous but not widely seen cooperative feeding behavior they did not stop. Cycle after cycle we were amazed on the ship as the eight or so humpback whales pierced the surface of the calm water and went after numerous but small prey items. The thought of hundreds of tons of whales converging on a fish that weighs just a few ounces was incredible. In fact there were two groups working independently and both were successful.

Late in the morning Sue, our ever-creative Expedition Leader, put together a great adaption of the previous plan. We would take a walk in the area, along a picturesque salmon stream at Ioukeen Cove and see many forms of live eaten and dying fish along with the bear sign that accompany them. This area was once a gypsum mine almost a hundred years ago. The kayaking would be postponed until the afternoon at a wonderful spot in Southeast Alaska known as Basket Bay.

After the National Geographic Sea Bird was repositioned to the bay, Zodiac cruises were started and kayaks were launched from the ship so we could all enjoy a great view and experience the grotto that formed when ancient rivers eroded through a limestone cliff. Salmon were present everywhere and moving fast. The day ended with a spectacular rainbow over Chatham Straight. It was quite a day of changed plans.

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