Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Day 14 – Today we took a three hour trip away from our home base at Anchor Point and headed up to Seward to go whale watching. We checked in with Major Marine Tours at the harbor 360 hotel – where we will be staying tonight. At 11:30 the boat left port and headed out towards the Gulf of Alaska. The first thing we saw was Bear Glacier which is the biggest glacier in America stretching 13 miles long and 1 mile deep. Not too far away, in Pony Cove, we saw our first humpback whale when it surface to blow. In Pony Cove we also saw a group of 3 gray whales. They did not show themselves as much as the humpback whale and they had a shorter blow. As we were leaving the cove the first humpback whale made a second appearance for us. Further along in Aialik Cape we saw 3 Orcas – 2 adults and a baby. The ranger narrating the tour explain that there are two types of Orcas: resident and transient. Resident Orcas eat fish such as salmon, halibut, and cod. Transient Orcas eat mammals such as harbor seals and grey whale calves and they generally life in small groups and travel over large ranges. The animals took a break while we enjoyed a meal. On the cruise we were served rib eye steak and salmon for lunch, along with a side salad, rice, and bread. Dessert was a chocolate chip brownie and cheesecake. After lunch we entered Aialik Bay and traveled to Holgate Glacier. The captain had to navigate an ice field to get close to it. The glacier was covered in snow, but had pieces of bright blue ice visible. The blue color is caused by the ice absorbing other wave lengths of light while blue light was reflected back because of its shorter wavelength. At the glacier we witnessed a piece of it break off and crash into the ocean with a bang. Lounging on top the floating ice we saw seals. In the Northwest Fjord we saw a bald eagle perched on a log on the beach near the glacier. We then proceeded out into Aialik bay to begin the journey back to Seward. In the bay we saw another humpback whale. The whale showed us its back and tail a few times before diving down out of view. Next we saw sea lions sunbathing on a small group of rocks in the Gulf of Alaska. The final animals on our cruise was a small group of horned puffins flying in front of the boat. We arrived back in Seward at 5:30 and had some down time to relax and go shopping. The group split up for dinner with half eating pizza and the other half eating Mexican food. The rest of the night was for lounging around and preparing for our final Tuesday in Alaska.

Elizabeth Dano & Jessica Rynders

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