It appears that you are currently using Ad Blocking software. What are the consequences? Click here to learn more.
Fitness and Photography for Fun - A blog on staying fit by hiking and doing photography by David Mendosa

Kenai Fjords

October 8th, 2013 · 2 Comments

Print This Post Print This Post

A nine-hour wildlife cruise of the Kenai Fjords National Park on a small ship out of Seward with just 15 other passengers was the most fabulous day of wildlife and nature viewing in my whole life. For starters, the weather was absolutely perfect — hardly a cloud in the sky or a breath of wind, a rarity for a summer day in Alaska. Since I knew that I would be outside most of the day, I dressed warmly with my down jacket.

Second, the scenery is beyond description. But a start has to mention the fjords along the rocky coast, the snow capped mountains, and the glaciers from the Harding Icefield, which covers more than 1,100 square miles, the largest icefield entirely in the United States. We went right up to the Holgate Glacier, which is a tidewater glacier, and Bear Glacier.

At Holgate Glacier I Seem Happy

At Holgate Glacier I Seem Happy

Click on the picture above to enlarge

Thirdly, we had a spectacular day of viewing marine mammals and birds. When we pulled into a cove to see some seals, we also saw a mammal that lives on land. Our sighting was so rare that the captain said that “you guys were superlucky because nobody had seen one in this area for more than 25 years.” I had never seen one anywhere or even hoped that I ever would. It was a wolverine.

When I Saw This Animal I Had No Idea What It Was, But I Shot It Anyway

When I Saw This Animal I Had No Idea What It Was, But I Shot It Anyway

Click on the picture above to enlarge

Dall’s porpoises rode our bow, apparently playing with the ship. Other marine mammals that we saw included many harbor seals, Stellar’s sea lions, humpback whales, and sea otters.

I Wonder if this Sea Otter Knows How Cute it Is

I Wonder if this Sea Otter Knows How Cute it Is

Click on the picture above to enlarge

The biggest thrill of the day for me and I think most of us was seeing an orca, the killer whale, ride right under the ship. I saw it clearly through a couple of feet of water as it came up too close to even consider photographing. But I did photograph one later as it breached.

A Killer Whale Breaches

A Killer Whale Breaches

Click on the picture above to enlarge

We also saw a few thousand birds, including some fabulous species that I had only read about: Kittlitz’s murrelets (which are critically endangered), ancient murrelets, parakeet auklets, rhinoceros auklets — and above all, puffins. We saw both horned and tufted puffins, the birds that I most wanted to see on this trip.

A Tufted Puffin Swims

A Tufted Puffin Swims

Click on the picture above to enlarge

As I left the marvels of the Kenai Fjords on my drive back to Nikiski, I noticed a couple of white specks in a bog about five miles out of Seward. I turned around when I could and discovered that the specks were a pair of trumpeter swans, the largest extant waterfowl species on Earth. Hunting had reduced them to near extinction by the early 20th century until Ralph Edwards almost single-handedly saved them. Marveen had earlier recommended Ralph Edwards of Lonesome Lake to me, and I recommend this book to you.

This Trumpeter Swan Family Came Closer and Closer to Me As I Photographed Them

This Trumpeter Swan Family Came Closer and Closer to Me As I Photographed Them

Click on the picture above to enlarge

Al in all, I had a rather nice day out in nature.

Share

Posted in: Alaska

2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 mario // Nov 15, 2013 at 7:47 pm

    Thanks for sharing, next best thing to being there.

  • 2 David Mendosa // Nov 16, 2013 at 10:22 am

    Dear Mario,

    I appreciate your comment. But actually my post can’t really capture the beauty there. Please try to see it with your own eyes!

    Namaste,

    David

Leave a Comment