Kenai Fjords National Park June 2014

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.

But in retrospect, it was a great day on the sea with magnificent scenic views. Not many places on earth offer a full-day cruise like this.


Killer Whales in Resurrection Bay

Resurrection Bay


The marine layer fog partly ruined the trip

Islands in fog


Foggy landscape

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



Offshore pod Killer Whale


Humpback Whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) in the Northwestern Fjord

Humpback Whale


Humpback Whale diving

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


Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)

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


Pacific Harbor Seal

Pigeon Guillemot (Cepphus columba)


Pigeon Guillemot

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

Pelagic Cormorant


Pelagic Cormorant carrying nesting materials

Northwestern Fjord landscape


Kenai Fjords NP glaciers

Northwestern Glacier


Kenai ice-covered fjord

Melting glacier


With ice from the Northwestern Glacier

Ice-fall, Northwestern Fjord


Northwestern Fjord

Northwestern Fjord


Northwestern Fjord



Horned Puffin

Bird cliff with Black-legged Kittiwake and Common Murre, Kenai Fjord Cruise


Sea Otter

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


And resting the clam on its belly

Glaucous-winged Gull (Larus glaucescens), Seward Harbor


Black-legged Kittiwake (Rissa tridactyla), Seward Harbor

The Star of the Northwest, Seward


Seward marina