Today we experienced the first day of our Southeast Alaska journey. During the first hours of the day, we could enjoy spending time on the bow. While we were getting our bearings, and enjoying our morning coffee, we got to know each other and had a brief introduction to the wonders of Southeast Alaska.
Our first outing was Ideal Cove. This trail in the temperate rain forest is located on Mitkof Island. Ideal Cove is a great place to get up close and personal with the temperate rain forest. Surrounded by old-growth forest, we learned about the dominant species of trees, the glacial history of the landscape, and many of the small understory plants, which are really fascinating.
Not too far from Ideal Cove, we ventured into LeConte Bay. The National Geographic Sea Bird stopped just before the terminal moraine, at the mouth of the Bay. We deployed our boats to explore LeConte Bay, and to get a closer look to the magnificent icebergs that were grounded on the moraine.
Some areas were covered in fog, and massive icebergs could be seen hiding behind it. The intensity of the deep blue color was accentuated by the thick cloud cover overhead. We were free to choose which icebergs to go see up close. The diversity was quite amazing. There were massive white icebergs with deep blue caves, crystal clear chunks of ice with amazing shapes, and multi-colored towers of ice, with black and gray rock fragments imbedded in blue-green backgrounds.
As the tides funnel massive amounts of water over the moraine, upwelling currents of water attract several bird species which feed on fish and invertebrates that are forced to the surface. We saw hundreds of Bonaparte’s gulls, glaucous-winged gulls, and surf scoters. We also had a good look at a few bald eagles that patiently waited for some easy pickings to become available among the currents.