Kenai Fjords National Park June 2014
   
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Home of numerous fjords and glaciers, Kenai Fjords National Park (NP) is a scenic area easiest approached from Seward on the Kenai Peninsula. After visiting Katmai NP, I drove from Homer to Seward to board a Kenai Fjord Cruise reaching deep into the park. The 9 hours long cruise covered 150 miles (240 km) and was heading for the remote Northwestern Fjord. Starting at 9 am, the weather in Seward was perfect with a clear, blue sky. Unfortunately, after just a few miles we ran into deep marine layer oceanic fog that partly ruined the trip, at least for wildlife photography. Wildlife viewing was not as good as expected, and we saw only a few species, such as Sea otters and Killer whales, relatively close-up. I guess it was just bad luck. The captain and guide appeared not to care too much, and said fog was quite common in the area. He said he had been doing this trip for 12 years, and of course knew that some trips are just not as good as others.

 

Killer Whales in Resurrection Bay

Killer Whales (Orcinus orca). These are part of a pod called AJ normally seen in Prince William Sound but not in Resurrection Bay. The pod can be recognized by scars on the dorsal fin of the male orca (left). The captain speculated that due to the El Nino this year, the pod may have relocated. The AJ pod is considered to be Transient, meaning their members mainly eat marine mammals

 

A Killer Whale thought to belong to a pod of offshore killer whales. Offshore killer whales feed mainly on sharks and halibut, and just occidentally pass by the Kenai Fjords region. This was the second pod of killer whales we saw this day

Humpback Whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) in the Northwestern Fjord

 

Humpback Whale diving

Dall Porpoise (Phocoenoides dalli). These small whales are very fast swimmers

 

Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)

Sea Otter (Enhydra lutris) eating a clam. This one was feeding in the Seward harbor

 

And resting the clam on its belly

Pacific Harbor Seals (Phoca vitulina ssp. richardsi) on the ice in the Northwestern Fjord

 

Pigeon Guillemot (Cepphus columba)

Stellar Sea Lion (Eumetopias jubatus)

 

Stellar Sea Lion colony

Rhinoceros Auklet (Cerorhinca monocerata)

 

Rhinoceros Auklet. Not easy to take photos of these birds when the boat is speeding at 30 knots

Surf Scoter (Melanitta perspicillata)

 

Surf Scoter

Poor photo of a Sooty Shearwater (Puffinus griseus) surfing the waves

 

Marbled Murrelet (Brachyramphus marmoratus)

Tufted Puffin (Fratercula cirrhata). Of the auks, we saw Horned and Tufted Puffin, Common Murre, Parakeet Auklet, Rhinoceros Auklet, Marbled Murrelet, Kittlizt's Murrelet and Pigeon Guillemot on the trip

 

Kenai bird cliff

Northwestern Fjord landscape

 

Kenai Fjords NP glaciers

Northwestern Glacier

 


Kenai ice-covered fjord

Melting glacier

 

With ice from the Northwestern Glacier

Out from Seward on the Alaska Explorer with captain and guide Dan Olsen and crew

 

The marine layer fog partly ruined the trip