Thursday, July 6, 2017

Kenai Fjords - Alaska

We ended our trip to Alaska on the Kenai Peninsula which is south of Anchorage. Kenai Fjords National Park is famous for fishing, glaciers and other wildlife. There are 2 destinations and of course, they are on opposite ends of the peninsula so we decided to stay in the middle. Our first destination was the port of Seward. We booked a 9 hour boat tour of the Fjords. We arrived at the dock early. Way early, as in the day before. We wanted to check out the town do a little shopping and have a nice dinner to celebrate my birthday. The recommended spot was Ray's. We had a great time and to top it off - my mother paid the bill! Can't beat that.

Birthday Dinner
The boat ride was, in one word, AWESOME. The weather was perfect, the crew was knowledgeable (and mostly female including the captain), the food was good, the views were unforgettable and the wildlife cooperated.
Kenai Fjords Tour Crew
We took the long tour so that we could get out to the Northwest Glacier which is pretty spectacular and so that we had a longer trip to see wildlife. We passed multiple rock islands on the way out which are the favorite nesting places for many sea birds such as Common Murres.

Common Murre
And the stars of the show - Puffins. Alaska has 2 types. This is Horned Puffin which look similar to our Atlantic Puffins. We saw hundreds of these flying footballs on the trip.

Horned Puffin
But these Tufted Puffins are really different with their yellow tufts blowing in the wind.

Tufted Puffin
Another puffin like bird is Rhinoceros Auklet. We saw a few of them. The name comes from the funny "horn" on the beak which is really just a feather.

Rhinoceros Auklet
Black-legged Kittiwakes nest on the cliffs of the rock islands by the hundreds too. They always look like they are smiling.

Black-legged Kittiwake nest
The strangest bird that we saw on the trip was a Bald Eagle. Doesn't sound strange right? Plenty of Bald Eagles in Alaska but this one was swimming. Yes, swimming. Here he is in the middle of the fjord doing the butterfly stroke.

Bald Eagle swimming
Here is is getting close to shore.

Bald Eagle swimming
And here he is hauling his catch out of the water. It was pretty incredible.

Bald Eagle
We arrived at the glaciers and it was pretty dramatic.

Northwest Glacier
We watched global warming in action.

The crew scooped up some ice so that we could have million year old ice cubes in our drinks.

Glacier Ice
We didn't need the ice since we were drinking Alaskan beer.

Cocktail Hour
Todd and I were really looking for a special bird that can only be found in the glacial ice but we didn't find one. Our disappointment was alleviated by the sight of Orca Whales. A pod swam past our boat. Here is a Mom and baby.

Orca Baby
Dad was a big dude! This is his dorsal fin which stood out of the water by 8 feet.

Bull Orca
I captured the whole scene with this shot. Breathtaking.

Kenai Fjord Orcas
Just when we thought there couldn't be more, we pulled back into the docks and saw even more. While we were nature watching, other boats were out fishing. Almost everyone came off the boats with fish. Mainly Halibut and Salmon. Check out the size of this gal - 200 pounds.

200 pound Halibut
The fishermen (and women) weren't the only ones feasting on the fish. The Sea Otters know that when the boats come back to the dock, they will get the fish scraps. They hang out below the filet table and just wait for manna from heaven.

Sea Otter

Sea Otter with fish scraps
This guy didn't need the handouts. He found his own crab and boy was he happy!

Sea Otter with crab
What a great day on the water.


Anonymous said...

You get a "Well Done" and a "Very Good". HH

Harvey said...

Your Killin' me!!!!

Linda said...