The Keku archipelago is full of life, and we found all manner of excitement during our morning exploring these islands in our expedition Zodiacs. Marbled murrelets, belted kingfishers, pigeon guillemots, and bald eagles flew nearby as we poked our noses into all the nooks and crannies of the islands covered in forest and flowers. Jellies and pteropods floated through the kelp forest while sea otters and harbor seals bobbed around nearby, but the humpback whales gorging themselves on bait balls just offshore truly stole the show. It was truly a case of not knowing where to look, but not really caring because there was something magical to see in every direction! After lunch, some of our more daring guests went for a dip in the chilly waters before we started heading out to Frederick Sound where we may have had the highlight of the day: we found some northern resident killer whales from the R5 matriline! We watched this family group for a while before going our separate ways in the peaceful, flat, calm waters.
National Geographic Quest
Inian Islands and Fox Creek
This morning, National Geographic Quest anchored in the Inian Islands. While wellness specialist Sokie started her early morning stretching class on the sundeck, we had the first surprise of the day – three humpback whales came close to the ship to greet us. After breakfast, Zodiacs were deployed, and we made our way to explore the islands. We went to Bird Island first, a rock full of seabirds, including glaucous-winged gulls, pelagic cormorants, and pigeon guillemots. We passed by an enormous colony of Steller sea lions that came close to the Zodiacs, swimming underneath us and playing with the strong waves and currents. Our guests enjoyed this abundance of life as we continued to the north side where we saw a blow. Two humpback whales were feeding in the area, and Dall’s porpoises moved quickly in the distance. Everywhere we looked was full of life. The whales went for a deeper and longer dive, and while we waited for them to come back up, we saw more blows farther away. This time it was orcas! We got closer and saw a pod of four transient orcas passing. Our guests couldn’t have been happier or more astounded. In the afternoon, we repositioned to Fox Creek to go kayaking and on different hikes. A photo and bird walk were led by photo instructor Iván and naturalist Zoey. Our guests really enjoyed exploring the lush temperate forest. They had opportunities to practice the photography tips learned throughout the voyage and to hear the bird calls they have come to recognize. It was a spectacular day in Southeast Alaska.