The National Geographic Sea Lion was greeted by hordes of wildlife as she sailed into the Inian Islands wilderness. Birds, sea lions, and otters popped their heads up and out of the water, breaking the otherwise smooth surface.

The first base of operation of the day was Port Althrop, located at the northwest corner of Chichagof Island. This is one of the larger landmasses in the Alexander archipelago, covering more area than Rhode Island. Port Althrop was named by the famous navigator and explorer Captain George Vancouver in 1794. Alaska showed off her prettiest side with a bluebird day and a light breeze. Guests hiked into the forest and kayaked the bay. The cove was chalk full of egg yolk, lion’s mane, and moon jellies. The backdrop to the morning activities was the spectacular Fairweather Mountains, which were uncharacteristically visible due to the incredible weather.

On the reposition for the afternoon activity, humpback whales paralleled the ship showing off their unique flukes. The photo instructor, Nathan Kelley, gave guests his intro to expedition photography talk, with invaluable tips and tricks. Once we arrived at the second anchorage, the adventure continued with Zodiac cruises around the various Inian Islands.

These islands are in Cross Sound, at the confluence of the Inside Passage waters and the Gulf of Alaska. Massive amounts of water flows into this area, creating fast currents and large zones of upwelling. These are areas where nutrient-rich bottom water is brought to the surface and exposed to the sun. This exposure fuels an opulent biotic brew. This biological cocktail brings copious amounts of wildlife to the area. Steller sea lions, sea otters, pigeon guillemots, black-legged kittiwakes, harbor seals, and humpback whales all frequented the area today to feed off the nutrient-dense waters. A perfect first day on our expedition in Alaska and looking forward to tomorrow’s explorations!