Cloud Ridge Naturalists


July 24-August 2, 2015 10 Days/9 Nights

Dr. Geoff Hammerson, Audrey Benedict, Bob Rozinski & Wendy Shattil, and the M/V Catalyst Crew

Few places in North America rival the scenic beauty and wildlife richness of Southeast Alaska’s Inside Passage. Join us aboard our “classroom afloat”—the M/V Catalyst—as we explore the remote islands, spectacular fjords, tidewater glaciers, and old-growth forests of this remarkable coastal wilderness. The Catalyst, a 76-foot-long classic wooden boat built in 1932 as the floating laboratory for the University of Washington, provides the perfect setting for our Conservation in Focus voyages. I’ve often wondered if it might be the heartbeat of the Catalyst’s 17,000-pound iron engine that generates the mysterious bond that passengers feel at the end of a voyage.

Whatever her secret, this historic treasure has been lovingly restored and carries 12 passengers in sublime comfort. She is equipped with a full complement of double sea kayaks and a motor- ized inflatable to enable explorations both near and far to cascading waterfalls and glaciers and on hikes through pristine temperate rainforests. The use of sea kayaks allows us a special seal’s- eye view of the marine world. Beginning sea kayakers will find this an ideal setting in which to learn. Unlike big cruise ships, the Catalyst is trim enough to explore the narrowest of fjords, slipping quietly past electric blue icebergs. Each evening, as we feast on yet another superb dinner of sustainably harvested seafood and share the day’s discoveries, there is little doubt that there is no better way to experience Southeast Alaska.

This year’s voyage begins in Petersburg, Alaska, and will include Thomas Bay and a visit to the Baird Glacier, Frederick Sound, the Brothers Islands, Endicott Arm, the fjord magic of Ford’s Terror, and Dawes Glacier, one of the southern- most of the tidewater glaciers. As is typical of the myriad photographic and natural history opportunities that await you on any of our Catalyst voyages in Southeast Alaska, we should see both brown and black bears visiting salmon spawning streams, Steller sea lions at their haul-outs, harbor seals and their pups, bald eagles, post-breeding aggregations of harlequin ducks, and fascinating seabirds, such as the marbled murrelet and pigeon guillemot. Timing for this year’s trip places special emphasis on humpback whale biology and behavioral ecology and coincides with the beginning of intensified humpback whale foraging activities in Frederick Sound. If we are lucky, we may see the spectacular bouts of synchronized lunge-feeding behavior that occurs when groups of humpbacks work cooperatively to entrap schools of small fish or krill through the creation of a near-surface “bubble net,” which serves to disorient their prey. With the “net” in place, the humpbacks lunge upward, mouths hugely agape, engulfing hundreds of small prey fish.

In addition to exploring the natural history of Southeast Alaska, we’lldiscuss the impact that global warming is having on the region’s glaciers and how changes in prevailing ocean currents may affect the populations of small fish that marine mammals and seabirds depend on for food. We’ll also offer mini-workshops that help you hone your skills in portraying the world around you in a more compelling way—either through photography or art. Our goal is to create a book based on our shared experiences and observations that truly captures the essence of Southeast Alaska—as well as the environmental challenges looming on the horizon.

Price: $4,500 (includes a $500 deposit)
Group Size: 12 Trip Rating: 2-3

Price Includes: 6 nights/7 days aboard the M/V Catalyst, all meals and beverages (including wine and beer), 2 nights’ lodging in Petersburg (July 24-25), and 1 night’s lodging in Juneau (Aug. 1), 3 group dinners ashore, the services of our 4 leaders (naturalists and photographers), the Catalyst’s 4-person crew, full sea kayak outfitting and expert instruction, gratuities to the Catalyst’s crew, boat/hotel transfers, and a copy of the photo book. Please note that the Catalyst has only one single-berth cabin. The price quoted is per person based on double occupancy; a single supplement of $450 is required of participants preferring non- shared hotel accommodations. Does not include roundtrip airfare from your point of departure to Petersburg, Alaska, on July 24 or your return flight from Juneau on August 2.

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