Wow. Such a small word to try to capture the sense of wonder that is a daily experience in Alaska. We began our trip last night, leaving Juneau around midnight to arrive at Point Adolphus first thing this morning. The point is a favourite feeding spot for humpbacks and we often see twenty to thirty whales in the area. Today was exceptional; arriving on site a solitary juvenile wanders parallel to shore, whetting our photographers appetites for the monumental mammals. We continue cruising and shouts ring out “Triple breach!” Three massive bodies erupt out of the water, throwing spray in all directions before landing with splashes that look like a bus has been dropped from a cliff. The engines off, we drift along as the pod turns toward us. Cameras fire on rapid as a second and third breach, and then one comes out of the water nearly hitting us with the spray from its landing.
After the excitement dies down, the Swell turns towards our next destination: Idaho Inlet. In the mouth, we spot a sea otter in the distance. Next to him is another, and a dozen more. They are rafting, floating in large groups in the open water; we pass several, numbering close to a hundred in total. Inde noses onto a beach at the head of the inlet and we take a walk onshore, discovering tracks and signs of bear and deer in the grass behind the beach.
A short while later we arrive at the Inian Islands, where we prepare for the first dive of the trip. Our divers suit up and we motor to the far side of the island; we plan to dive Sea Lion wall, but the tide change is late and the current is still too fast. We move on to Susan’s Hooters, where we descend to sixty feet and drift along the colourful wall. After thirty minutes, we begin our ascent and as we do our safety stop, three sea lions begin buzzing us. They fly by, extremely graceful under water; surprising given their girth and awkwardness on land. We climb aboard Inde and head back to the Swell for dinner and a well deserved sleep after a very full day.