Whales, Puffins, and Steller Sea Lions: Kenai Fjords National Park

When I was eight, my best friend’s father used to zip us to Stellwagen Bank in his maroon cigarette boat on humid New England summer afternoons. He’d turn off the engine, and we’d drop our jaws at the riveting sight of dozens of humpback whales surfacing just feet away
from us.

At twenty-three, I still feel the tingle of goose bumps when a whale breaches or slips its tail fluke into the sea. A daylong boat cruise through Kenai Fjords National Park at the beginning of my eighth week in Alaska brought me up-close again to these gargantuan marine creatures. We spotted a few humpback and gray whales; plenty of puffins, murres, cormorants, bald eagles, auklets, guillemots, and murrelets; a sea otter, harbor seals, Steller sea lions, and Dall’s porpoise. As a New England-now-California girl, I’m extremely fortunate to have already glimpsed many of these animals.

Hence the best part of my day was Northwestern Glacier. Our boat literally plowed through clouds of haze— and past harbor seals sleeping on icebergs— to reach this tidewater glacier at the very end of Northwestern Fjord. Watching the glacier calve, or release gigantic blocks of ice that roared into the ocean below, was one of the most moving half hours of my life.

A playful sea otter in Resurrection Bay

Our first wildlife sighting as we left Seward marina— a playful sea otter in Resurrection Bay!

Rock spire

Rock spire

A whale "footprint"! (I failed to capture any fins.)

A whale "footprint"! (I failed to capture any fins.)

Weather station

Weather station

Natural patterns and colors

Natural patterns and colors

The algae and guano look like an abstract painting!

The algae and guano look like an abstract painting!

Harbor seals

Harbor seals

Harbor seals

Harbor seals

Steller sea lions

Steller sea lions

Flying puffin!

Flying puffin!

More colorful patterns

More colorful patterns

Neat rock formation

Neat rock formation

Entering Northwestern Fjord!

Entering Northwestern Fjord!

Northwestern Fjord

Northwestern Fjord

Northwestern Fjord

Northwestern Fjord

Northwestern Fjord

Northwestern Fjord

Northwestern Glacier!

Northwestern Glacier!

Northwestern Glacier

Northwestern Glacier

Northwestern Glacier

Northwestern Glacier

Northwestern Glacier

Northwestern Glacier

I loved photographing patterns of light.

I loved photographing patterns of light.

Northwestern Glacier

Northwestern Glacier

Northwestern Glacier

Northwestern Glacier

Northwestern Glacier

Northwestern Glacier

Northwestern Glacier

Northwestern Glacier

Northwestern Glacier

Northwestern Glacier

Northwestern Glacier

Northwestern Glacier

Northwestern Glacier

Northwestern Glacier

Northwestern Glacier

Northwestern Glacier

Can you spot the little dots of harbor seals?

Can you spot the little dots of harbor seals?

Harbor seals on ice

Harbor seals on ice

Harbor seal

Harbor seal

Harbor seal

Harbor seal

Harbor seal

Harbor seal

Harbor seal

Harbor seal

Sun salutations

Sun salutations

Leaving Northwestern Fjord

Leaving Northwestern Fjord

Northwestern Fjord

Northwestern Fjord

Tall waterfall

Tall waterfall

Waterfall

Waterfall

Resurrection Bay

Back in Resurrection Bay

Resurrection Bay

Resurrection Bay

Maybe someday this will be Restless.

Maybe someday Restless will sail here.

Resurrection Bay

Resurrection Bay

Farewell Seward!

Farewell Seward!

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