Today we began our expedition into and throughout Southeast Alaska. After leaving from Sitka, the former Russian capital of Alaska, yesterday, we made our way through Sergius Narrows this morning to allow for slack tide, the best time to pass this tight passageway. Once through the narrows, we entered the even more excitingly named waters of Peril Strait. Here we faced no peril. Instead, we were briefed on the proper procedure for boarding and disembarking Zodiacs as well as bear safety, for it is here that we decided to keep peril at bay.
After a delicious lunch prepared by the skilled galley team, we embarked on Zodiacs to begin our afternoon activities, hiking near the shoreline of Lake Eva. Here we had our first glimpses of the forests of Southeast Alaska. We moved from sedges and alders into spruce tree forest. Hemlocks are also found here. These tall, majestic trees with their droopy tops are truly a sight to die for. It was also here that we had our first glimpse of the intertidal zone as the tide quickly began falling just after our arrival. We watched as the shoreline began extending out first a foot or two, then quickly five feet, until it finally reached out over ten feet back from where it had sat on our arrival.
While this excitement occurred, the undersea team ventured below the surface to see what marine life could be found in the vicinity. As they wrestled with king crabs, hikers began to return to the ship. In the evening, we were given a special treat as we left our anchorage in Lake Eva: humpback whales. These whales were spotted traveling in a group and soon began a behavior that is only found here: coordinated bubble-net feeding. As the whales signaled to each other and lunged out of the waters to feed, we sat back watching in awe.
Today was just a beginning, which makes us wonder what other wonders we will uncover during the rest of our adventure here.
Photo caption and photographer: Visiting Lake Eva. Photo by Kayvon Malek