Alaska Trip
July 9-21, 2005

Kenai Fjords National Park Tour

We went on a tour of the Kenai National Park.

Ah, so peaceful here.  It is hard to imagine that Seward was devastated by a great earthquake of 1964.

A large cruise boat and many smaller boats.

Our tour boat, the Alaskan Explorer.

Three Grumpy Old Men.  Just kidding.
Billy Leavell (Memphis, Tennessee), Clayton McCray (Columbus, Indiana), and David Donaldson (Birmingham, Alabama) wait for the boat to depart.

David Donaldson and me.

Chris Nipper and Billy Leavell (and his new toy).

Billy Leavell and Clayton McCray.

Leaving Seward.

Cruising through the Resurrection Bay to the Gulf of Alaska.

A sea otter ignores the boat as it floats on its back.

Now they are looking at us.

Can you find a bald eagle in this picture?

Ah, this is why everyone say that Alaska is beautiful and wild!

Sea lions enjoy sunbathing on the rocks.

More sea lions on coastal rocks.

We saw some Dalls Porpoises, too.  They were very fast as they jumped out of water here and there.

Three Hole Point in the Aialik Bay.

Approaching a glacier we saw these ice floes.

One of several glaciers that we saw on the tour.  This is the Aialik Glacier in the Aialik Bay.  The Aialik Glacier is one of about 30 glaciers that "flow"
from the Harding Ice Field in the Kenai Fjord National Park.  Harding Ice Field has 700 square miles of ice and gets over 400 inches of snow annually.

A close-up view of the glacier.  The bluish appearance of the ice is caused by all the gas inside which
has been compressed so much that the apparent color is blue from light scattering, much like a blue sky.

A piece of glacier breaks off and falls into the water.

The captain turned the boat engines off so that passengers could listen as the ice cracked and fell into the water.

Some ice that broke off was big.

A big chunk of ice floating near the boat.

More ice floes.

David and Chris take time for lunch.

This piece of ice was from the glacier; a crew member retrieved it from the water for the passengers to touch and examine.

Another bald eagle.

Did it see a fish?

A puffin tries to swim away from the boat.  If unable to swim away, it will dive into the water or fly off.  How it gets
airborne is interesting - it has a stout body and short wings that is better for propelling through water while swimming
underwater than for flying.  Thus, a puffin needs a long running start on water surface to get into air.  The puffin is an
Alcidae, meaning that it both flies in air and swims underwater.  It actually swims underwater better than it flies.

Two seal lions are branded.

A sea lion basks in the sun.

Kittiwakes fly with grace.

Kittiwakes on a large slanted rock.

Another puffin trying to swim away.

A beautiful, breathtaking sight.  This is what Alaska is all about.

Four puffins on a rock ledge high above water.  Since they have stocky bodies and short wings that are better for
propelling through water, they can't fly off from the ledge; they need to jump off and fall down to gain enough speed to fly.

Common murres sitting on a rock shelf far above crashing water.  They are also Alcidae.  Don't they remind you of penguins?
Penguins can swim underwater, but they cannot fly.  Common murres can fly and swim underwater.

More common murres.

A fishing party.  Now, this is a very remote spot to fish.

Station PILA2 - Pilot Rock, Alaska.
  There is a tower with weather instruments on it.  Click the below link to get weather information from Station PILA2:

A humpback whale.

This is what a humpback whale looks like.

The humpback whale has a small dorsal fin.  The whale is moving to right.

The whale has two blowholes through which it inhales and exhales air.

Thar she blows!
The tip of its head is about five feet in front of the blowholes, the dorsal fin is about 20 feet behind the blowhole, and the tail is about
20 feet behind the dorsal fin.  This would make the whale about 45 feet long.  Most of the time only a small portion of the whale is visible.

The humpback whale arches its back as it starts to dive.  This is where it gets its name.

When you see the tail, it usually means that the whale is going down to the deep.  It can stay
underwater for as long as 30 minutes although 15 minutes is the usual length of time.

The whale tail going down.

Looking for another whale.

Another whale sighted - it blows through its blowholes as it surfaces.

We made a stop at Fox Island for a salmon dinner.

This raven nearly stole a piece salmon from someone's plate before it got chased away.  Here it sits nearby waiting for another opportunity to steal.

While most were inside in the serving lines, some chose to wait outside and enjoy the scenery.  The guy in black jacket
was the one who chased the raven away from the plate on the table when the plate's owner went back inside for a drink.

The raven keeps moving from branch to branch waiting for an opportunity to get a piece of salmon.

Everyone is hungry.

A couple poses for a picture.

Back to the tour boat.

Shawn Schramski of Anchorage holds a whale vertebra.

Back at Seward.  The Kenai tour is now a memory.

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