Port Althorp and Inian Islands, Alaska

Jul 10, 2018 - National Geographic Sea Bird

A classic Alaskan morning led to a classic Alaskan landing at Port Althorp on Baranof Island, Southeast Alaska. After a hearty breakfast, we left for a two-and-a-half-hour hike. Shorter walks followed, and we explored the animal paths, tracks, and trails left behind by the full-time residents of Port Althorp. Once home to a salmon cannery and a Naval Auxiliary station, the area is returning to its wild roots. The only signs of human industry that remain are the few log barges—covered with slow-growing new plants—resting on the beach.

During a sumptuous lunch, our crew charted a course to the legendary Inian Islands—a hot spot for wildlife due to the incoming Pacific waters that carry nutrients and an abundance of food into Icy Strait. We watched Steller sea lions haul-out onto the rocks and growl at each other over the best napping positions. Sea otters bobbed in the surf, looking on as bald eagles swarmed to grab up the fish bits left behind by the pinnipeds. An epic few hours of small-boat cruising and photography ensued. 

A young National Geographic Global Explorer was inspired by the day’s events and wrote a poem she was willing to share:

Wild Alaska

Wild Alaska! Piled with

Fun. Wild Alaska!

Bring out the sun!

Hiking walking liking


This is fun!


By Annabelle King, age 7

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About the Author

James Hyde

Undersea Specialist

James is a home-grown, free-range Pacific Northwest outdoorsmen. Born in Seattle and reared nearby on Vashon Island, he grew up in and surrounded by the Salish Sea. James has saltwater in his veins, but would be quick to point out we all do, echoing Carl Safina " We are, in a sense, soft vessels of seawater." Born with the travel bug, James was fortunate enough to spend time on four continents before graduating college. During his studies at Western Washington University's Huxley College of the Environment, James went to Australia and visited the Great Barrier Reef. He was never the same. A lifetime of playing in the productive, but opaque green water of the Northwest had offered him little firsthand experience of the creatures below its depths, but with a clear view of the colorful dramas playing out across the bottom of the tropical Pacific, he was hooked. Scuba diving and underwater ecology were solidified as his passion and after college, it took him to a dive shop in Seattle fixing gear, tidepooling with local middle school students, and generally making a spectacle of himself in the surf.

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