Aboard the National Geographic Sea Lion September 1, 2010
It was an early morning start for Zodiac tours….and well worth it! The number of species we saw this morning was staggering. There are few places on earth with such an abundance of wildlife in such a small area. Sea otters greeted us from the kelp beds as we made our way through the channels between islands, to the open sea of the North Pacific Ocean. These channels focus huge tidal currents that stir up nutrients and lead to fantastic productivity and they also funnel and concentrate all the salmon that return through Icy Strait to spawn. Steller Sea Lions, gulls, cormorants, harbor and Dall’s porpoise and humpback whales are waiting to take advantage of this food bonanza, and we saw them all from our trusty Zodiacs. Most of us returned to the National Geographic Sea Lion overwhelmed by the beauty and bounty of this place, where the inland waters meet the open ocean.
National Geographic Sea Lion then weighed anchor and moved a few miles through South Inian Passage to an anchorage just off the quaint town of Elfin Cove. This picturesque village hangs from the rocks surrounding an extremely protected bay. One gets around, between buildings and homes, on board walks that are part of the Alaska state highway system. After hearing a short and informative talk by one of the local residents, we went ashore for a visit and had a chance to fill our shopping compulsions, as well as meet some of the characters that live in this remote and beautiful spot.
Later in the afternoon, National Geographic Sea Lion entered Idaho Inlet and dropped anchor off Fox Creek where we had an the options of hiking in the lush rain forest or gliding over the calm waters and exploring in kayaks. Although bear tracks and scat were seen in many places, we didn’t see any of the bears that had left their marks. The walks, however, were spectacular: through the spruce forest, along the creek to a beautiful waterfall or up into the muskeg. After our past few days hiking in the forests, we have become more familiar with the forest plants and animals and more comfortable with walking in bear country. We have also become more comfortable with our shipmates; cocktail hour was filled with banter and stories about our adventures of the day and the treasure that is Southeast Alaska.
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