After a night of riding the swells across Hectate Strait, we woke to calm waters alongside Mary Island. Coffee in hand, we watched three humpback whales just off the unique square lighthouse. After breakfast we entered Behm Canal and the Misty Fjords National Monument Wilderness. Here, we have a Lindblad tradition where guests travel ahead of the ship via Zodiac and photograph National Geographic Sea Lion as she comes through Owl Pass. On her port side is a massive natural rock formation that resembles the face of an owl. Further up, the calm waters at the head of Rudyerd Bay allows for fun Zodiac rides and kayaking. Sediments in the shallow waters sparkled with golden glitter flakes of pyrite. We wrapped up the day with cocktail hour on the bow as we paused in the glorious God’s Punchbowl off Rudyerd Pass.
National Geographic Sea Bird
This morning found us where the Pacific Ocean meets Cross Sound and Icy Strait, the Inian Islands. Named by William Healey Dall, one of Alaska's earliest scientific explorers, in 1879, the Inians are a mecca for wildlife. The powerful tidal currents flowing in and out daily create a tremendous upwelling of nutrient-rich water. This area is where fishing boats from the various ports in the northern portion of the Inside Passage enter and exit. It was a glorious day with calm seas, which allowed us to cruise around the various islands in our Zodiacs drinking in the fantastic scenery and looking for wildlife. Unmissable were the Steller (or northern) sea lions, the largest member of the “eared seals,” first described in 1742 by Georg Wilhelm Steller, the German surgeon and naturalist on the Bering expedition. We saw many of them on “bachelor haul-outs,” rocks where single males of all ages bask, posture and feed on numerous species of fish. Sea otters with pups are just about the cutest animals on the planet! As members of the weasel or mustelid family, southern sea otters are the smallest marine mammal. Like other members of this family, they have very thick fur. In fact, at 850,000 to 1 million hairs per square inch, sea otters have the thickest fur of any mammal. Without blubber to protect them from chilly ocean waters, sea otters rely on their thick fur.