Lake Eva | Hanus Bay | Baranof Island

Jul 12, 2019 - National Geographic Sea Lion

Our last explorations of the voyage found us at a favorite Southeast Alaska landing – the trailhead to Lake Eva on Baranof Island. With a morning full of hikes, kayaking, and stand-up paddleboarding, we explored shore, lagoon, and forest, discovering eagles chorusing, salmon leaping, and the beauty and nuance of the temperate rainforest.

It has indeed been a pleasure traveling this week with Arylene Clark Wilson, a visually impaired guest, who has opened our minds to alternative ways of experiencing the wonders of Southeast Alaska without using the sense of sight. By all going quiet at times on the bow and on the trail, we gained new appreciation for the power of birdsong, whale blows, breach splashes, and waterfalls crashing. By feeling the texture of tree bark, mosses and leaves, and in tasting berries, and by focusing on the scents of the rainforest and ocean, we deepened our sensory appreciation for Southeast Alaska.

In tribute to our trip, here are the lyrics to a song I wrote and performed this last evening at recap, accompanied by colleagues Chelsea Wahman, Steward, and David Spiegal.


A is for Alaska (by Steven Zeff)


A is for Alaska, hope you had a great time

B is for Banana Slug, riding on its slime

And for the Bears that can be anywhere


C is for the Calving of ice

While D is for Deer, and not getting on your Device

E can only be for Eagle


F is for Fireweed, Forest, and Fjord

And Fish and Filming and Feeling Floored

G is for Glacier

And worrying about its erasure


H is for Humpback, breaching ad infinitum

And for Harbor Seal, if you can sight ‘em

Their heads somewhat bob-able,

and Hummingbirds improbable


I is for Isostatic rebound

As ecstatic as that sounds

But really it’s for Icebergs

Where they abound


J is, you know, for Juneau

And, I wager, for Jaeger

And it’s for Jellyfish smacks


K is for Killer Whale, thriller, no fail

Finning and blowing and slapping their tail

Hoping to see some attacks

But we wish they wouldn’t show up so late


L is for Lichen, the naturalists are likin’

Symbiosis, not a simple process

It’s a fungus with an algae date


M is for Minke, Muskeg, and Muir

And a Mink to see by the shore

N is for Nudibranch

underwater slug, who’d a think’d


O is for an Ocean of Otters

In spite of all our pelt-seeking slaughters

P is for puffin

Hope you didn’t see nothin’


Q is for Quintessential scenery

White ice, blue ocean, forest greenery

R is for Raven

And for the Rain we weren’t bravin’


S is for Sea lions Steller

and for the Salmon they’re slammin’

Jays Steller and little Squirrel fellers


T is for Tlingits, and Touristy Trinkets

Terns on their bipolar rides

And Tongass and Totems, and watching out for the Tides


U is for U-shaped Valley

And for V, which we also can tally

W is for Water filled with Whales


Watching them in the Wilderness

They thrill us, and chill us, and fill us, instill us, and overspill us with joyfulness

W is also for World War II Tales


X is what you can call your husband or wife

If you keep up this naturalist kind of life


Y is philosophical baggage

And for Yellow skunk cabbage

And something else that should go in this song


Z is for Zodiacs and Zones intertidal

Hope you might have liked our recital

See y’all next year please come along…


A is for Alaska

  • Send

About the Author

Steven Zeff


Steve is an international science educator, expedition naturalist and whale research associate. He has worked a range of polar to tropical destinations for Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic, since 1999. Steve lives in Stockholm, Sweden, where he teaches science and coordinates international school programs. When not in the classroom or out on expedition, he enjoys kayaking and birdwatching in the Swedish countryside from a stereotypical red summerhouse.

Steve lived ten years in Hawaii where he was involved in marine conservation programs, taught naturalist training programs, and researched and swam with humpback whales regularly. He was the Director of Scientific Communications for the Center for Whale Studies, a long-term whale research project working for the protection of the humpback whale. Steve has observed more than fifty of the world’s whale, dolphin and porpoise species in the wild.

Get our newsletter

Join us for updates, insider reports & special offers.

Privacy Policy