Inian Islands and Fox Creek

Aug 17, 2018 - National Geographic Quest

Today, guests awoke to a gorgeous Southeast Alaskan morning with real, honest-to-goodness blue skies above. Anchored in the Hobbit Hole, National Geographic Quest had humpback whales and harbor porpoises surfacing all around while guests climbed into Zodiacs to cruise around the Inian Islands for the morning. The Inian Islands are located just north of Chichagof Island, tucked into the corner of the Gulf of Alaska and Cross Sound. This very special cluster of islands experiences the tidal currents in a unique way: the proximity of the islands to each other funnels the ocean very tightly, creating standing waves and upwelling events in seemingly random areas all along the coastline. Guests wore waterproof clothing even as the sky showed no signs of rain; wildlife enjoys these wild currents because of the nutrients stirred up to the surface and are often found feeding in the ripping tidal lines. Steller sea lions pop up all around the Zodiacs as the aroma of hundreds of gulls, black-legged kittiwakes, and pelagic cormorants overcomes the Zodiac cruisers. Adorable sea otters—one of the only members of the weasel family to live in a fully marine environment—raft together in the tops of a kelp forest to keep from floating away on the strong ocean currents. The Fairweather Mountain Range peeked out behind the southern boundaries of Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve as both tufted and horned puffins flew overhead. An altogether spectacular morning.

In the afternoon, National Geographic Quest repositioned to the mouth of Fox Creek on Chichagof Island. There, guests continued to enjoy the sunshine on land with hikes and on water either by kayak or stand-up paddleboard. While there hasn’t yet been enough rainfall this summer to elicit a full salmon run in this stream, guests explored the forest and saw many signs of coastal brown bears including perennial trails, scat, and claw marks on trees indicating that they have been monitoring the area in anticipation of the day that the salmon arrive. National Geographic Quest then cruised east into Cross Sound, towards the small town of Gustavus, to pick up four guests for the evening. The National Park Ranger and Alaska Native Voices Cultural Interpreter will spend the night on the ship for our voyage into Glacier Bay National Park tomorrow, and local author, storyteller, and musician Kim Heacox and his wife, Melanie, joined guests after dinner for stories and song singing before heading to bed.

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About the Author

JIll Niederberger


Jill is an aquatic biologist, naturalist, divemaster, and captain with a love for everything living in and depending on water. Whether sailing catamarans, leading snorkeling tours, or assisting with cetacean field research projects, she enjoys connecting others to the wilderness around them. Her most recent adventures have led her into a focus on marine mammals – those creatures with fur and blubber that defy the odds by living in or depending on an environment in which they cannot breathe.

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