The first thought on everyone’s mind when they woke up this morning: “What is that bright yellow orb in the sky?” The liquid sunshine that is standard for the Southeast Alaskan rainforest had finally abated, bringing a cloudless, sunny day to National Geographic Venture. As guests went to breakfast, the charismatic megafauna was also having a bite to eat. Two humpback whales along the shoreline of Baranof Island were making nets of bubbles to surround juvenile salmon and trap them towards the surface of Chatham Strait. With a stream of air and the flashing whites of the undersides of the whales’ pectoral fins, the salmon fry had nowhere to go but up…but the humpbacks were faster, engulfing them in their 15,000-gallon mouths.

Turning west into a narrow, picturesque fjord, we anchored for a day of water sports in Takatz Bay. Here, beautiful waterfalls are fed by snowmelt, and a curious harbor seal spied on brave guests that took to the water in kayaks, paddleboards, and Zodiacs. The day could only be improved by one sighting: killer whales. The holy grail of Alaska’s cetaceans followed the ship during dinner and well into the evening. Passing close under the bow of the ship, everyone had a beautiful show of incredible creatures in the wilderness that they call home.