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  • Day19

    Wildlife Tour - Sitka Style

    August 14, 2017 in the United States ⋅ 🌧 13 °C

    Quick brekkie then down to the dock through the drizzle to meet up with Paul. There were six of us all together.
    The objective of this tour was to observe the local wildlife and that we did. That the tour took us through stunning scenery, all be it in the rain, was the cream on the top.
    Our 5 hour tour extended to 8 as Paul endeavoured to fulfil our bucket lists of animals to see.My list had three main players - whales, otters and puffins. The weather had blown up two days ago, dispersing the krill schools and thus breaking up the pods as the whales went in search of their dinner. The outcome of this turn in events was that the whale were elusive. We had sightings early in the trip and on our way back - lots of spout, a tail showing before the plunge to the deep and one surfacing almost directly under our boat. There was a zodiac near us at the time, the only other tour group that we saw out that day, and we had thought that they were in danger of the whale surfacing under them. Paul had circled out wider to fine the whale room but as it turned out it was us the that could have gone bottom up.
    The sea otters did not disappoint. The smaller groups were a bit skittish as we approached but the larger groups (or rafts) had safety in numbers and were not put off by us in the least. Cute, cute, cute. They roll themselves in the long strands of kelp that grow up from the seabed and tuck it in under their armpits. Thus anchored they are safe to sleep, scratch, laze around and generally have a relaxing time. They'd stare up at us with looks that clearly stated, "and what do you think you're looking at".
    Although the seas were abating the trip out to St Lazaria Island was across open rolling seas so Paul checked that we were all good to go the distance. Thankfully no-one was threatening seasickness. St Lazaria is an amazing basalt island, summer home to many species of birds. If I was a twitcher I could list them. But unfortunately I can only name a few. The stars of the bird populations were the crested puffins, on the endangered list and only found in the wild in this area of Alaska. I perhaps shouldn't be quoted on that last fact, but they are definitely on the endangered list. Among the other birds we saw were blue necked herons and cormorants.
    Paul supplied a light lunch of smoked salmon dip that he had made, crackers, Brie, cashews and olives. It hit the spot nicely!
    Back on land it was a quick dash to the nearest facilities as we had been eight hours on the water without a loo.
    Another amazing day and another must do in Alaska ticked.
    We met up with Steve and Ruth for dinner down at the The Sitka hotel. Full of locals it had a nice atmosphere.
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