“Aliens” greeted us on the beach this morning. Lion’s mane jellies were left high and dry to litter the beach after the twelve-foot hightide. Our kayak excursion offered us the opportunity to observe these brainless, spineless invertebrates up close in the clear, cool waters of Eight Fathom Bight. Here, the waters are rich with nutrients, and sea stars, mussels, clams, and salmon were easily visible from our kayaks.

After our paddle adventure, a quick Zodiac ride zipped us to our hiking start. We followed an old ATV trail to a National Forest Service cabin where we emerged from the forest into an open meadow bordered by a freshwater stream. As we approached the stream, we could see pink salmon making the arduous journey to their birthplace to complete their lifecycle. In a final heroic effort, they spawn to ensure the next generation of salmon before fading away and contributing their nutrients to the forest.

As we boarded National Geographic Sea Lion in time for lunch, we couldn’t help but slurp our salmon chowder with a newfound appreciation for all that salmon go through to complete their lifecycle. As if the day couldn’t get any better, our afternoon sail through Port Frederick included coastal brown bear sightings on the beach, orca whale families cruising in the distance, and humpback whales close enough to hear as they sent mists of sea spray into the sunset-soaked sky. Today was an iconic and memorable day in Southeast Alaska.