Endicott Arm, 8/6/2022, National Geographic Sea Lion
National Geographic Sea Lion
After an evening of exciting Alaskan weather, National Geographic Sea Lion meandered into Endicott Arm in the early afternoon. After lunch, Zodiacs explored the icy waters towards Dawes Glacier. Guests experienced waterfalls, gliding gulls, harbor seals thermoregulating on icebergs, and harbor porpoises cruising alongside the boats. After the glacier tour, Global Explorers learned how to drive Zodiacs and enjoyed doing donuts in the open water.
After another delicious dinner by our chef, guests celebrated all the hard work of the Global Explorers and enjoyed the guest slideshow.
Svea grew up outside of Boston, Massachusetts, with woods and a reservoir behind her house and a “when it gets dark” curfew. Hours were spent exploring the woods and fishing in the reservoir. This love of nature inspired her to pursue degrees in Fish...
It seems so sudden that we already are on our fourth full day cruising the intricate channels, straits, and fjords of Southeast Alaska. We began with an early morning crossing of the bar in Holkham Bay, not a local juke joint, but rather the end moraine at the mouth of the fjords, a pile of glacial till left by the massive glaciers which long ago carved the over deepened valleys comprising Tracy and Endicott Arms. Protected as a wilderness area in the Tongass National Forest, Tracy Arm is a fjord which carried us for miles into the Coast Range mountains, far closer to the Canadian border than we are to the open Pacific Ocean. The presence of a tidewater glacier was evident as we navigated through icebergs, bergey bits, and growlers—ice shed recently by the South Sawyer Glacier. Incredible landscapes were capped by incredible wildlife as we turned the day into evening while cruising down bay, back across the bar, and out into Stephens Passage. Such a quick trip over the last few days, but the fresh sights, wild landscapes, and abundant wildlife filled our time until late evening as we finally turned north towards our final port of call in Juneau. Our shared experience has brought us together as old and new friends, sharing the spirit of exploration and personal discovery.
Today was filled with choices and adventure. After breakfast, we boarded a bus for a 22-mile journey to the Jikaat Kwaan Heritage Center for the Chilkaat group of Tlingits. We drove by a small bog with four nesting trumpeter swans and the “Last Call” phone booth placed in the woods and decorated with US and Canadian flags. At the elegant museum, we viewed several cultural artifacts and listened to explanations of daily life, both past and present. Afterwards, we bussed to the Chilkaat River to board six, 9-person rubber rafts (including the oarsman/naturalist) for a thrilling float down the river. Our oarsman demonstrated superb manual and verbal dexterity by navigating the shallow and impossibly meandering river while expertly explaining the river and associated biology. Well-developed upper-body strength, precise timing, and focus are required for this job! Following a picnic lunch alongside the river at our disembarkation point, we traveled back to Haines for an afternoon filled with activities. Some went on a guided bike tour, while others biked independently. Others went fly fishing (catch and release) on the Chilkaat River. A few hiked to Battery Point, while others visited the Sheldon Museum and the eccentric Hammer Museum, which features hammers of all sizes and function (who knew that hammers could pound in so many different ways!). And lastly, a few of us just wandered about the historic town of Haines. Dinner was the traditional crab feast, featured locally caught Dungeness crab.
Weather: Cloudy and misty with periods of sunshine Fog blanketed our area of operations as we anchored early in the morning. It only showed signs of lifting as we encountered a bull orca swimming alone on the edge of Cross Sound. We watched with bated breaths as the power and grace of this animal held our attention. We eventually carried on and shortly thereafter, guests and staff alike were treated to a show of perhaps the most thrilling display of bald eagle activity this naturalist has ever seen. An incoming tide rushed through the narrow channels and along the benthic topography around the Inian Islands, bringing with it a wave of nutrients through upwelling currents. It’s hard to overstate the volume of water that was spilling onto the surface from the chilled depths. Any unfortunate rockfish or halibut caught up in said current met the awaiting wildlife above. Steller sea lions by the dozen worked the swirling waters and were rewarded handsomely. Their harvest didn’t go unnoticed as a sizable convocation of bald eagles plucked their bounty from the sea. Among other species observed were several humpback whales and harbor porpoises. The day continued as we entered Port Althrop, nestled in a mountain-rimmed cove of Chichagof Island. The island is home to xóots or coastal brown bear as evidenced by their trails in the intertidal sediment. Encountering these tracks is a humbling experience, and Naturalist Linda Burback captured the moments with her plaster casting kit. The hikes were a perfect way to enjoy the remote wilderness that surrounded us. Moreover, a paddle on the kayaks offered a peaceful conclusion to the operations of the day. Stay curious. Stay inspired.