On this day “Exploring Alaska’s Coastal Wilderness,” many of us awoke to the scene of Alaska’s oldest Five Finger Islands Lighthouse within Stephens Passage. There were humpback whales cruising close by, and a pair of oystercatchers having their morning chat. There were pigeon guillemots sporting their black feathers, bright white wing patches, and strikingly red feet. There was a bald eagle posed high upon a Sitka spruce, reminding many of us that this was a fitting tribute to the many fallen on this Memorial Day.

As we continued our cruise toward Holkham Bay, the excitement peaked during our safety presentations — Dall’s porpoises quickly darted along our starboard side with their characteristic rooster-tail splashes, and then a pod of orcas was spotted. We all piled outside to watch the activity. Humpback whales, Dall’s porpoises, and orcas were all visible on this day.

Later, we were in Endicott Arm fjord where we loaded into the Zodiacs to get a closer look at the half-mile wide Dawes Glacier. The ice was various shades of white and blue, with the occasional fall of calving ice dropping hundreds of feet into the sea below. A loud crack and a pressure wave would then follow. What a fantastic day!