Over the summer, Wetpixel and Jason Bradley (myself) travelled to Alaska to trek from Ketchikan to Juneau on the vessel Nautilus Swell. Wetpixel has lead many Alaskan Expeditions, but 2013 provided something special. Our group saw tons of humpback whales, eagles, sea otters, wolf eels, octopus, large and playful stellar sea lions, an endless variety of sculpin, beautiful reefs covered in color and soft coral, giant plumose anemones, halibut, salmon, glaciers, and MUCH more. Alaska’s Inside passage still lives and thrives as a healthy ecosystem, and is eye candy for any diver photographer.
The Swell is a beautiful, comfortable and recently retrofitted tug boat capable of accommodating a total of 12 guests. The Swell’s crew is competent, accommodating and fun, while our day boat, The Indie, was built for twice as many divers as it holds working with the Swell. The trip was comfortable, to say the least. We were blessed with excellent weather by Southeast Alaska standards with meaning minimal rain and calm seas. On one special occasion while traveling through Frederick’s Sound, we came across a bunch of humpback whales in glass-like surface conditions and with a beautiful pink sunset that wrapped 360° around the horizon line. It was magical.
Of course, one animal didn’t get the magic memo. Stellar lions were in abundance and playful. We were excited and our memory cards were full at the beginning of the trip while shooting them, but our visit to the Inian Islands mostly produced the opposite feeling. The sea lions there were BIG and they seemed to be prone to biting, which is just playful to them. Either way, many of us really just wanted them to leave us alone by the end of the trip. It’s not fun shooting a macro subject, minding your own business, when out of nowhere, you get your head stuck in an 800 lb. sea lion’s mooch. This happened on more than one occasion, but they really just want figure out what we are and if we wanted to play. Play seems important for sea lions.
Alaska is one of these places that I can write about all day long, but it just needs to be experienced. Alaska needs to be touched, explored, smelled, seen, and witnessed with your own eyes and cameras. If you haven’t visited yet, go. If it’s not on your bucket list, put it on. You won’t regret it. Dates are in the works for another future expedition, and likely in 2015. If you think you might have any interest, please contact us to alert us, and feel free to ask me any questions about Alaska, anytime, whether you travel with or without us. Hope to you see you up there, next time.