With the Arctic Circle below us, sea ice to the northeast, and the Northwest Passage dead ahead, we spent the day at the first crossroads of our voyage. A couple full days at sea are required to transit the vast, northern reaches of Alaska, and we were greeted with overcast yet calm conditions today.
In this part of the world, the sea is shallow and the topography flat, yet biologic abundance is high. We have observed continuous flights of common murres coming to and from the coastline, black-legged kittiwakes in constant motion, and even our first (fleeting) sight of Pacific walrus.
The Chukchi Sea gets its name from an indigenous group of people living in Russia’s far east. Though the language is limited to those 1,600 or so individuals living on the Russian side of the International Date Line, we have followed the coastline of the Chukchi Sea as it arches northeast around the top of Alaska. We are traveling toward its border with the Beaufort Sea, our destination for tomorrow. During this transit, we had a brief glimpse of the northernmost point of land in the continental United States, Point Barrow, a geographic destination that is a first for this photographer!