The Sea Lion Posse of Frederick Sound

This is the fourth of the “Week-Long Alaskan Dream” post series.

The Misty Fjord left Baranof Springs in the morning to head into Frederick Sound for Day 3 of our Inside Passage cruise.

Inside Passage cruise on the Misty Fjord

Whales teased us with a water spout here and there in the morning, while we watched the isolated sea otter (or two or three) lazily float by us.

Trio of sea otters in Alaska's Inside Passage

The landscape changed, and sandstone-colored cliffs held a surprise.

Hidden gem on the sandstone cliffs of the Inside Passage

Tucked in between the mossy surfaces was a pictograph — a red-pigmented sun painted in a location that left one pondering as to the mechanics of creating that art.

Pictograph in Alaska's Inside Passage

For some period of time, the wind was at a minimum as we traveled across the water, creating large expanses of almost-mercurial cloud reflections. On board, the Misty Fjord’s eight passengers wrote in journals, read books, or quietly chatted as the boat continued its way through the Sound. We embraced the relaxed atmosphere of the small ship, comfortable in our relatively confined space, considerate as we shared stories and company while creating space for solitude, as well.

Traveling through Frederick Sound in Alaska's Inside Passage

We passed a raft of sea otters in the kelp near a rocky outcropping ….

Raft of Sea Otters in Alaska's Inside Passage

…. with seals keeping a watchful eye from shore as we passed by.

Sea otters and seals in Alaska's Inside Passage

After lunch, the captain took us to a small island in Frederick Sound where sea lion haulouts were common. Sure enough, as the boat approached, varying shades of brown in cylindrical shapes could be seen lining the shore and rocky ledges, at first only visible through binoculars or a telephoto lens, and then distinguishable by the naked eye.

Sea lion haulout in Frederick Sound, AlaskaSea lion haulout in Alaska's Frederick Sound

As the boat drew closer, the sea lions could see us, too, and let us know our presence had not gone unnoticed. Vocalizing with an increasing flurry of activity could be observed, and the previously stationary lumps on shore sunning themselves became quite animated, with a few pushing off into the water, while the big old bull sat prominently above the crowd, literally barking orders.

Sea lion haulout in Frederick Sound, Alaska

We found a calmer spot to anchor on the backside of the island, the scattered haulouts a distance away, to provide a safe entry point for our group of kayaks. After instruction on how to give the sea lions wide berth, we set off to circumnavigate the small “sea lion island.”

Kayaking in Alaska's Frederick Sound

Canoeing skills do not directly translate into kayaking skills, so my husband and I often almost immediately fell behind the group a short distance. I am not sure if that was more or less comforting as we watched the sea lion “scouts” or “defenders” of the haulout crew launch themselves noisily in the water, posturing and barking as they swam in coordinated effort toward the kayaks.

Kayaking

We gave the sea lions wide berth, as instructed, and while we were not in any real danger, I would be lying if I said I had no concerns!

Kayaking in Frederick Sound, Alaska

When the posse of sea lions would immerse themselves and disappear as a group and then pop up several feet closer, still creating turbulence and noisily barking all the while, we could not paddle fast enough!

We relaxed as we rounded the corner of the island after successfully making it past both haulouts …. one on the main island and the other on a smaller rocky island perch nearby. But just as we assumed all was well, we were greeted by one more round of gang-like sea lions, causing us to push out even further from the shoreline as we finished our circle tour. Even as we continued moving away from the heavily populated haulouts, the irritable barking traveled through the air. They may have been out of sight, but they certainly were not out of mind.

Scenic views from Frederick Sound, near Hobart Bay, Alaska

Hobart Bay was our final destination for the evening, where we would dock for the night.

After dinner, we took a short hike uphill to an overlook of the strait beyond the Bay, just as the sun set, the layers of dark pine-covered hills and snow-capped mountains fading from view.

Sunset view

When we returned dockside, the bonfire was going strong, having been warmed up by a couple rounds of s’mores to fuel our hike.

Sunset bonfire in Hobart Bay, Alaska

Darkness settled in, reflections on the lake dimming with the light. Stories were told around the campfire, and we bid another adventure-filled day adieu.

~ Kat

Next post: The First Iceberg

Previous posts in the series: 

4 thoughts on “The Sea Lion Posse of Frederick Sound

  1. Cher Howland

    Oh my! Just imaging those barks and those Seal Patrols. Incredible moments -let alone paddling by at eye level!

    Like

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