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Tuesday, 7 June, Roberts and Crow

our seal of approval

semi-overcast 60 °F

Good morning! When we awoke we were anchored in Frederick Sound, near the islands of Roberts and Crow, just off the mainland, with Baranoff and Admiralty Islands with their snow covered peaks way off to our west. Our planned activities for the day included a guided kayak tour in the morning, and a beach walk in the afternoon.

By 9am we were dressed in our rain jackets, rain pants, waterproof shoes and PFDs, ready to go on a 2 hour kayak trip wherever the guide led. The initial plan was to kayak around Crow Island (or was it Roberts Island?), but the water was too choppy for this batch of kayakers, so we paddled along the coast, around a bit of a peninsula, into the neighboring cove, and back. Along the way we saw a bald eagle up in a tall pine, oodles of moon jellies, a brittle sea star, lots of bullwhip kelp and a pigeon guillemot (a black and white duck-like fowl with bright red feet). As we were returning to our ship, 3 harbor seals became quite curious about us. We just sat and watched them – they kept submerging and then coming up to look at us. One was especially curious and the last time we saw it, it came up about 15 feet from our kayak. All we saw were their heads with their big round eyes and bristly whiskers, but it was very neat. (I took several pictures, but GoPro battery had drained by the time we saw the seals, so we have no pictures. Sigh!)

It seems even in Alaska there are traditions, so lunch today was Taco Tuesday. Then came the beach walk. Back on with the waterproof clothes, plus our tall rubber boots, a PFD and into a skiff. I don’t think I’ve described the skiffs yet. They are rigid-hulled inflatable boats with an outboard motor. We sit on the inflated walls (aka “gunnels” - they are about 18 inches thick and 2 feet tall, so they are comfortable to sit on) and get splashed as we go zipping through the waves at 12-15 knots.

Back to the beach walk, sometimes called an eco-meander. Low tide was a couple hours after lunch, so we got into the skiffs and headed for nearby Walpole Island nearby, arriving shortly before low tide. Walpole island is situated in a location that provides an almost 20 ft elevation difference between low tide and high tide, resulting in a rich array of sea life visible at low tide. The shoreline was rocks, no sand, 58356300-edb5-11ec-8bc2-cb1b67721a00.jpg740c4f30-edb5-11ec-8bc2-cb1b67721a00.jpg
and the rocks were covered with drying rock weed, bull whip kelp, blue Pacific mussels, and barnacles. 5a62a340-edb5-11ec-8bc2-cb1b67721a00.jpg
There were little tidal pools scattered among the rocks and we saw chitons (looked like an oval black leaf with a stripe of large-ish white dots along its center line), some anemones and urchins,563944e0-edb5-11ec-8bc2-cb1b67721a00.jpg
ochre sea stars,6bffc330-edb5-11ec-8bc2-cb1b67721a00.jpg
clams, limpets, hermit crabs, something like a ghost crab, and a pair of oyster catcher birds 6e3fef30-edb5-11ec-8bc2-cb1b67721a00.jpg
with their nest of 3 spotted eggs nestled in a rocky hollow75256050-edb5-11ec-8bc2-cb1b67721a00.jpg.
Most of the tidal pools had a very small fish called sculpin in them which were shaped kind of like tadpoles. I saw a large quantity of the rock, serpentine, which is found along the subduction zone along the Pacific coast from Washington up into Alaska; there was also a lot of quartz and granite (mostly gray, some pink), basalt, and a few pieces of petrified wood. There was not only much biological diversity, there was much geological diversity as well.

It was a fascinating walk. We were free to wander about and look at whatever interested us. One of the guides was with us for a while and told us what some of the animal we saw were. After about 90 minutes, and the tide was quite noticeably coming in, we returned to the ship to get ready for supper. It was a beautiful day, highs about the mid-60s. When we got back to the cabin, Dan took a picture of the sun shimmering on the water.6e990bb0-edb5-11ec-8bc2-cb1b67721a00.jpg

The ship raised anchor, moving on to our next day’s spot, and while waiting for supper, the intercom came on to say that whales were spotted off the bow. So we were late for supper. We saw several spoutings, and one case of a rolling whale back ending with a high fluke that disappeared into the water. After a bit, with the evening coming on and the ship moving, it was cold on the bow, so we went on to supper. It was baked halibut – excellent! After supper a guide gave a presentation on whales, specifically humpbacked whales, very apropos.

Posted by dasafish 20:44 Archived in USA Tagged alaska zone walpole_island intertidal

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