Weather in Seward is rarely sunny, but the clouds parted when we took a half-day cruise with Major Marine Tours. The captain, crew and a ranger from the National Park Service made it a very interesting experience. Animal sightings included sea otters, eagles, puffins, mountain goats, sea lions, Dall’s porpoises and humpback whales.
Our guides also showed us numerous geological features. Among them was Sandspit Point in a narrow inlet parallel to the mouth of Resurrection Bay. Rumored to be Seward’s best (only?) surf spot, it’s also interesting because of scars from the 1964 earthquake and tsunami, the most powerful in American history. The resulting flood of seawater killed large stands of spruce trees, but preserved their skeletal trunks.
Steep granite cliffs and sea stacks were topped by dense vegetation of the temperate rainforest. Glaciers slowly crept down mountains behind them. Enormous chunks of ice from Bear Glacier floated on a freshwater lake, a gravel beach between it and the Gulf of Alaska where we gently rolled on the swells.
Headed back toward Seward, we paused to watch a trio of humpbacks. Farther along, a large cruising sailboat was dwarfed by the mountains. As if the ocean isn’t enough to make one feel small, Alaska has both.