After a few lucky days of sunshine, we awoke to a scene of drama with gentle rocking from the swell as we turned the bow of National Geographic Quest into our anchorage at the Inian Islands. This morning was one that will remain in our memories for a long time to come. Loading into the Zodiacs, we crested on the slow rolling waves, feeling the true power of the ocean. Bird Rock came into view, and we marveled at the acrobatics and sheer size of the Steller sea lions. These giants, with the largest males reaching 2,000 pounds, looked upon us with curiosity. They swam near the Zodiacs and gazed at us with the same intensity we were giving them. The morning didn’t end there. We were graced by sea otters lounging in the kelp and a variety of seabirds, including rhinoceros auklets and double-crested cormorants.

After a full morning experiencing the wild wonders that Alaska has to offer, we transited a short distance to George Island. It was time to explore another promising location! We experienced it all by land and water. Some of us started out kayaking, getting an up-close view of the kelp and jellies that live just below the water, while others investigated the fungi and moss along the trails of the island. We all convened at the beach, and those bold enough stripped down and took the polar plunge. Cheers erupted as our brave plungers truly experienced the ocean that has been guiding us along this trip.