Imagine yourself on a twenty-six-foot boat in the middle of the ocean with your best friend and three other genuine people. The water is crystal clear and is a vibrant turquoise color. It is a seventy-five-degree sunny day, and humidity is virtually nonexistent. Your hair is blowing in the breeze made by the speed of the boat your own, and you are surrounded by nature, wildlife, and beauty. This is just a small picture of the experience I was able to have as a traveling nurse in Alaska on the Fourth of July weekend.
I had the incredible opportunity to go on a whale-watching trip with Seward Ocean Excursions in Seward, Alaska. The trip was six hours long into the Kenai Fjords National Park in the Gulf of Alaska. The boat trip only consisted of four individuals, and then the guide themselves. The small number of people on the boat made the trip more personalized and allowed great visuals and picture/video taking quality. The guide was super knowledgeable and gave us so much information on the wildlife that I’m about to tell you all about.
Increased plankton equals increased food sources from the very bottom of the food chain to the very top, hence other Alaskan wildlife. The whole goal of the trip was to see whales, in which we ended up seeing three humpback whales that were estimated to be over forty feet long. These majestic animals are a sight to see! The whales are protected, so the closest we could get was seventy-five feet away from them, with certain boat idling restrictions. That at first may seem far away, but if it means protecting these beautiful mammals, then so be it. But in reality, that seventy-five feet didn’t seem far in person; it seemed very close and remarkable. The whales were feeding, and showing off just a tad for us. The biggest whale we saw was flapping its fin out of the water, splashing up in the water, and gave us quite the show with its tail. The whales themselves made this excursion worth it!
The whales were the goal of the trip, but we also saw a lot of other wildlife. We saw jellyfish, bald eagles, a school of fish, salmon, sea otters, puffin birds, and sea lions. The sea otters were just floating on their backs as if they were relaxing out in the middle of the ocean. The bald eagles were perched on a high peeked mountain rock, just as I would envision a bald eagle to do. The salmon were lively and jumping up out of the water as we floated by showing us their beautiful silver shiny scales. The jellyfish were leisurely floating by. The school of fish was ever-changing its path of direction and whipping around the water as a group. But, the one wildlife experience that stood out to me the most was the life of the sea lions!
The sea lions were very playful and swam right up to our boat. They were very vocal and loud as we just watched them in their habitat. The guide told us that the lions are endangered and are being studied because their young are not surviving in most cases. This just gave me more appreciation for their existence that day. The size of the males was astonishing, and I wondered how they even moved. The males can weigh up to twenty-five hundred pounds! I only hope the species will someday be lifted from the endangered list.
The last impressive experience made on the trip that day was the siting and visiting of the Holgate Glacier. The glacier was three hours away from the boat dock we started at and was located in the Kenai Fjords National Park. The glacier was an astonishing size and towered over us. While we were there, the glacier was crumbling, and pieces were falling off. The sound of the breakage was so loud and is titled ‘White Thunder.’ The sound gave a true definition to its name. This is also the first year in the history of the glacier that individuals can see the ground under the glacier. This sparked a conversation about global warming and just how detrimental it can be to our environment. Seeing this in person and experiencing the thunder sound, shed light on the issue to us as a group.
This excursion was something I will never forget, and I will forever hold it’s memory. If you ever adventure to Alaska, it is a must-do! You won’t forget it and only wish you could experience it time and time again. Seward Ocean Excursions was the perfect choice for our guide, and I am very thankful for their information and hospitality. I also would like to thank my company, Travel Nurses Inc., for helping make this trip possible.
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