Swimming? In Alaska?!

Yep. I did. And it wasn’t by accident either! We had a beautiful day at Fox Creek last week – blue sky and warm. After sitting out in the sun for several hours in a black Zodiac with the third mate, watching the kayakers (and rescuing one after he tipped his kayak), I was ready for the polar bear plunge. We had nine kids onboard, and they all wanted to go swimming. So Jen, our expedition leader, loaded them (and me) into a Zodiac and motored us 20 feet away from the ship. One by one we all plunged into the 42 degree water and after surfacing, swam as fast as we could back to the ship and climbed up the fantail ladder. Because the air was warmer than the water, I wasn’t at all cold after getting out of the water. The water, on the other hand, was quite chilly. I didn’t have anyone take my picture the first time, so of course I had to jump in again.

We also had some great wildlife last week too. We saw our first bubble net feeding humpbacks just outside of Glacier Bay National Park. Bubble net feeding is a type of cooperative feeding where the whales organize themselves into different positions. There is a bubble blower who blows a ring of bubbles around a school of fish 20 feet or so below the surface. Then there’s a caller who makes a loud whining noise and comes up in the middle of the bubble net to scare the fish to the surface. The remaining whales come up after the caller with their mouths wide open to catch the fleeing fish and they all surface looking like giant clams. I didn’t get any pictures of the bubble net feeding this week, but here are some from a few years ago.

We also saw a pair of male and female brown bears really close. They were browsing along the shore and we nosed the ship up close without scaring them. Later we dropped a Zodiac and got even closer, maybe 30 feet. Close enough to see the individual blades of grass hanging from their mouths. I could have watched them all day!

Finally, we saw some orcas too! We had just entered Glacier Bay National Park and someone spotted the characteristic dorsal fin of the animals. There were perhaps seven  all together, and they were having fun rolling over, showing their flippers, occasionally spy-hopping (sticking their heads out of the water), and we even saw one of them fully breach just a few hundred yards from the ship. That was their first time I’ve seen an orca breach! So cool.

To finish off the week, we sailed into Sitka early last night to watch 4th of July fireworks. They got cancelled last week in Juneau due to rain (no surprise), so they lit them off a week late. I was exhausted after a week full of hiking, swimming, yoga, wildlife viewing, and 15 massages, so I only watch for 15 minutes. It was still fun though. I can’t remember the last time I saw fireworks…

So now I have one more week to go. There will be 18 kids on board, so I’m hoping (sheepishly) that I won’t have too many massages! I’m ready for my two-week break!

I mentioned in my last post that I wanted to see bubble netters and orcas, and I did. So this week I’m hoping to see orcas on the hunt!


One Response

  1. Oh Becky, I love you so much!

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