All days on the water are wonderful but some days are just “Marvy!”. Humpback, and orcas, and bear – oh my! A day out in SE Alaska doesn’t get any more marvelous than this, or in the words of Discovery’s crew Melinda, “Just marvy!” The trip from William Henry Bay to Swanson Harbor is typically pretty quick but on today’s journey Mother Goose couldn’t turn around without spotting some truly fantastic Alaskan wildlife.
Right off the bat, Discovery’s crew spotted a black bear meandering along the beach, turning over rocks looking for a midmorning snack. A short time after, the fleet spotted blows on the horizon, and slowed to watch a lone humpback feeding. Humpbacks are lunge feeders, and migrate in the summer to fishing grounds, hunting for herring in the nutrient dense, cold waters of Alaska. Again and again she would come up to the surface to breathe and then dive down, fluking her massive tail, lunge feeding on bait fish. We watched the graceful humpback complete several cycles before moving on.
But, the cetaceans were not done with Mother Goose yet! A bit later Discovery called out Dall’s porpoise riding on their bow. And then to everyone’s surprise two families of Orca appeared right next to the boats. The fleet stopped to watch in awe the graceful movements of the orcas. One family included a little baby orca, who moved with playful energy amongst its mom and aunties. The Dall’s porpoises became bored by our lack of wake and meandered away, milling nearby. While the two ecotypes of Orca, resident and transient, might look strikingly similar to us, the clever porpoises know that these orcas were the fish-eating residents not their mammal eating counterparts, and thus safe to be around as a marine mammal.
After all that excellent wildlife viewing, you would think the fleet would be tired out. Not so with this group! As soon as we pulled into Swanson Harbor, the Patos crew hopped in their dinghy and were off to drop their crab trap. Melinda and Doug, off of Discovery, decided to go for a leisurely kayak around the shoreline. The Walkers on Thea, truly living their best life, got a surprise visit from their pilot nephew, who delivered them pizza by float plane. We all wrapped up the evening with a campfire and smores ashore.