As National Geographic Quest was sailing near Hoonah in Chatham Strait, an officer on the bridge spotted a group of humpback whales. We approached the whales, and they began to feed cooperatively. One whale breached, and the group moved from place to place, eating as many small schooling fish as they could fit in their mouths. This is the rarest humpback whale behavior to observe, and it was not even 7:30 in the morning! As we started to pull away, a group of Dall’s porpoises came speeding to the bow of our vessel. These porpoises are one of the fastest creatures in the sea, and a nice little group spent some time riding our bow wave. This is the best beginning to an expedition that I have ever personally experienced. Some of the rarest behaviors from our favorite creatures. With these ‘drop the mic’ moments, who knows what’s next?
After lunch, groups of guests joined naturalists for an exploration by Zodiac to see as much wildlife as possible in a short amount of time. Everyone took pictures and videos while observing the sea otters, sea lions, and a variety of birds. The finale of the Zodiac cruise was a visit to the Tidelines Institute, started by Zach Brown. Tidelines’ Inian Islands campus offers a variety of courses, local programs, a gap year program, and scientific research opportunities to a variety of individuals and groups.
We enjoyed our first ‘recap’ of the expedition, dinner, and a fantastic presentation by Kim Nesbitt about the Tongass National Rainforest. It was an amazing day of exploration from start to finish.