2023 Alaska Flotilla – Leg 7, Day 14 Tuwartz Bay to Alexander Island | NW Explorations


2023 Alaska Flotilla – Leg 7, Day 14 Tuwartz Bay to Alexander Island

A calm morning opened with a soft red sunrise as we departed Tuwartz Bay with a group of harbor seals still hauled out in no hurry to start the day. Just outside the mouth of the bay a humpback whale surfaced for a few breaths and slowly dived out of sight. A perfect tranquility fills my soul and makes me smile, so grateful to be part of this wondrous environment.

In Wright Sound the wind moved from the north through Douglas Channel creating a few minor white caps, then settled again to flat calm at the juncture with Whale Channel where we noticed three more fin whales calmly feeding. The blow of a fin whale is column-shaped and about 30 feet tall. Calm conditions allowed the breath and the shallow backs of the whales to remain visible. Fin whales do not break high above the surface like the conspicuous humpback whale, nor are their flukes obvious when they dive. The defining features are the small, curved dorsal fin positioned three-quarters of the way along the back. Fin whales are very long, 60-75 feet making them second only to blue whales, the largest animal ever to have lived on earth at 70-90 feet. Being so long, the fin whale’s blow is noticed first and then a smooth back is visible for a time, finally followed by the small falcate dorsal and the flukes shortly afterwards. It is a thrill to see these huge gentle whales! They are fast swimmers sometimes referred to as the “greyhounds of the sea” and can relocate from one area to another, quickly keeping the fleet busy trying to determine where they will surface next.

Numerous humpbacks also entertained us with their characteristic deeply curved spines followed by lifted flukes as they dive. We watched two adults and a calf traveling together and various other groups throughout the channel. After 45 minutes, we decided to continue on our journey when suddenly a nearby humpback decided to entertain us all with repetitive pectoral slaps that echoed off the nearby shore. We paused a bit longer to watch the antics and eventually waved good-by to the “waving” whale.

Captain Chris tempted the fleet onwards with the suggestion of a beautiful waterfall and small “ICE CREAM” shop in Butedale further south in Princess Royal Channel. The waterfall was indeed beautiful as promised but the “ICE CREAM” shop looked a bit sketchy. We took a few photos of the fleet and the waterfall and continued to our destination.

Alexander Bay is a long bay with steep granite walls, a few landslides and various rocky islands requiring a sinuous route into the back of the bay. Once we arrived, we were again surrounded by nature’s beauty encouraging us to explore. After rafting and anchoring, groups from SeaStock, Theresa and Deception all ventured out in kayaks and dinghies. A lagoon through a narrow passage was tempting but would have required us to portage through the rocky channel. It was late and time for dinner so we all settled in for a beautiful red sunset, unfortunately the result of many wildfires in interior BC.

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