Alaska Cruise Report: Inian Islands, Elfin Cove, Chichagof Island

From the National Geographic Sea Bird in Alaska September 2, 2010

Boatload of life-jacketed paparazziA drumming rain revitalized the forest and its denizens during the pre-dawn hours. With their burden released, the clouds were reduced to weak grey wisps threaded through the spruce and hemlock tree tops. Light shifted from dark monotonous tones to a promising glow on the horizon.

Smack in the middle of Cross Sound are the Inian Islands. As the tide turns washing and abetting all manner of sea life, the slots between these islands become roiling chutes. From Zodiacs we viewed the dynamics of upwelling and whirlpools, a hint of the tumultuous hydraulics created by the interaction of benthos and a shifting ocean.

While exploring the shoreline we paused to admire sea otters bobbing in the kelp forest, absorbed in the activity of their morning ablutions. Fastidious in the care of their precious fur coats, much time is spent preening, fluffing and grooming. The tap, tap, tap of an otter breaking into a clam was heard; we watched as it swam on its back, cracking the clam on a rock balanced on its tummy. The otter returned the observations, yawning with apparent boredom at the boatload of life-jacketed paparazzi.

Whale flukeIn route to Elfin Cove we came upon dozens of whales feeding on the ebb tide. Synchronous whooshes of exhalations startled us, which were quickly followed by tandem fluke-up dives. The sleek blubbery bodies slipped effortlessly into the water, disappearing repeatedly to resume their underwater foraging. We were left at the surface with a combination of utter amazement and pixilated consuming fits.

The sirens for the Alaskan sun called to us in the afternoon, we could not be indoors with such glorious, balmy weather during our Alaska cruise. An impromptu feeding frenzy occurred on our sun deck as our Hotel staff brought forth a marvelous spread of fruits, cheeses, smoked halibut and salmon. We munched complacently as Humpback whales continued to feed, dance, breath and breach around us.

A day of dubious precipitation beginnings, ended with a ship full of enthralled and slightly sun burnt marine beast admirers.

Enjoyed this Alaska cruise report? View the detailed cruise itinerary…


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