Continuing south down the Inside Passage, National Geographic Quest dropped anchor in Punchbowl Cove. This secluded and picturesque location is just east of Ketchikan and lies within the Misty Fjords National Monument near the Canadian border.
As the low hanging clouds cloaked the high peaks around us, we left the ship on Zodiacs to explore the small cove. At low tide, we were able to get up close to the rocky shoreline and look for intertidal invertebrates. We found sea stars, mussels, and plenty of barnacles. These curious creatures live a life partially submerged and have special adaptations to keep from drying out or becoming prey for other marine animals…truly a life on the edge. Wrapping up the morning, the clouds lifted, and we were able to see the towering rock walls that surround Punchbowl Cove. These tall fjord walls are remnants of the glaciation that took place over thousands of years and sculpted these majestic landscapes.
During lunch, the ship repositioned further into Rudyerd Bay and anchored near Owl Pass. Owl Pass is named for a dramatic geologic formation that resembles the giant eyes of an owl, countersunk into the fjord walls. We again launched the Zodiacs and investigated what this area has to offer. With perfect weather conditions overhead, we found cascading waterfalls, thick forests, and a salmon stream, complete with eagles and harbor seals. The salmon all reached their spawning grounds and are finishing their lifecycle as food for other animals. They appeared ghostly as they swam, unaware of our presence, enough so that this naturalist was able to pluck one out of the stream with just my hands and a good pair of gloves.
The day ended as we exited Misty Fjords and continued south. Tonight, we will leave Alaska behind and enter Canada for more adventures.