2023 Alaska Flotilla – Leg 7, Day 16 Shearwater to Furry Cove | NW Explorations
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2023 Alaska Flotilla – Leg 7, Day 16 Shearwater to Furry Cove

Departing Shearwater, we headed south into Llama Passage and came upon a sea otter quietly enjoying its breakfast served on its tummy while floating on the glassy calm water. The otter seemed curious about our parade of boats and remained afloat giving each boat a viewing and photo opportunity. Further along in the passage, we noticed a very frisky humpback whale breaching on the far shore of Hunter Island. As we watched from a distance, the whale continuously breached over and over. By the time we were close enough for clear photos and viewing without binoculars, the whale breached about seven more times and then quietly continued on its way leaving us all thrilled to have had the opportunity to witness this majestic display of sheer joy.

We continued south in Fitz Hugh Sound when Deception spotted what resembled a potential navigational hazardous “dead head” which is a large log floating in a vertical position and difficult to see because only a small part is exposed. As we relayed the information to the fleet behind us, Jane suddenly realized our “dead head” wasn’t dead at all!  It was an adult male Northern Elephant Seal displaying the characteristic nose-up posture while breathing at the surface after a dive. The head is held motionless with the eyes closed above the surface of the water for about three minutes as the seal replenishes oxygen stores following a long dive. These animals spend almost all their life in deep oceans, on average 900-1,500 feet deep. They remain at sea for up to 300 days per year and more than 20 hours spent at depth, equivalent to spending 7-9 months of the year under water! Unfortunately, it was realized a moment too late, the elephant seal disappeared under the surface before she could get a photo.

At the south end of Fits Hugh Sound, we turned into Fury Cove off Penrose Island. This scenic protected inlet behind Fury Island makes a perfect staging point before crossing Queen Charlotte Sound tomorrow. Surprisingly, Fury Cove has white beaches and small passages weaving through the mini archipelago. Many of us seized the opportunity to paddle our kayaks and dinghies for a closer look. Narrow passages between the islands and rocks offer opportunities to safely experience the ocean swell in a kayak or dinghy. We were also able to see the effect of continuous strong ocean winds that contort evergreens; stunting their growth with crooked trunks and irregular pillowy crowns blown in the direction of the prevailing onshore winds somewhat reminiscent of bonsai designs.

The evening was glassy calm making for a comfortable sleep and an encouraging outlook for tomorrows crossing.

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