Otters in Prince William Sound
The Prince William Sound is known for it’s easy access to paramount coastal views. A thriving ecosystem resides in this Alaskan inlet. This includes an abundance of wildlife sightings. Exposure Alaska loves to make use of the easy water access and explore these coast lines by sea kayak.
One of the benefits of cruising in a kayak is getting up close and personal so as to encounter animals that migrate through the sound in the summer months. The swift and quite movements of kayak paddling leaves many animals curious. Some will come just a little bit closer to investigate just who you are and what exactly you are doing.
On one trip in particular, our group found ourselves with rare bluebird skies. This is unlikely because a typical trip through this coastal rain forest is made of consistently dense clouds and drizzling rain. Shedding dry gear, we relaxed into our kayak seats. With the bright light we were able to see much further. Spotting things that might have eluded us through the commonplace of grey mist.
Taking the opportunity to admire the turquoise shades of water, the group spotted a figure on the horizon. At first, it looked as if small, dark buoys were bobbing in the distance of the inlet. Soon they seemed as if they were elongating, growing larger and lankier in size.
As we strained our eyes over the sun-lit water, the shapes would continue to shift. One moment they were a small bobbing object, the next they looked as if a couple logs were floating in the water. Sometimes we would see one, and then two, and then all of a sudden, none.
Perplexed, we paddled on, curiosity getting the best of us. Then, 20 yards away, a small blonde face border by chestnut fur poked from the waters surface. The animals dark triangle nose pointed in our direction, taking note of who we were.
Rising out of the water a bit to get a better view us, the marine mammal cork-screwed through the water. Finally, the somersault ended in them floating casually on their back, belly to the sun. This proved that our group was not a threat to their afternoon activities. in the Prince William Sound. This behavior was a clear indicator that we were sharing this beautiful morning with a sea otter in the Prince William Sound.
We watched the otter swim lazily on its back as they floated gently over rocking waves. This otter was quite large, about four feet long and wearing a coffee shade of fur. The cream colored face that faded to a deeper brown, looked silky and beaded with sea water.
Every few minutes or so the otter would dive back under the waves. Presumably to swim through kelp forests in search of clams or restless adventure. The otter always returning to float easily along their back.
In between dives the marine mammal would float with ease as they diligently groomed their fur with their paws. They would gently comb their stomach and arms so as to finish with their head. Taking soft strokes over their faces, it looked as if they were rubbing sleep from their eyes. Almost as if they had just woken up from a nap.
Lounging in the sun, this otter was taking in the joys of this sunny day just as our group was. This intimate experience left us satisfied to leave the otter to their daily routines. We moved on towards Blackstone Bay.
It soon turned out that this would be far from our last sighting of sea otters. As we rounded peninsulas and took breaks on the shorelines we saw more and more. Some would be in pairs, or even with a few others, moving playfully through the water.
As we came across these small knit groups it was apparent that sea otters loved to play and have fun with each other. They would snake through the water, chasing each other before returning to float, their arms linking together as they rested.
Their heads would sway with the waves on the horizon line as we paddled on. Disappearing and reappearing for moments at a time. As the sunlight disappeared, similarly so did the otters dark figures.
Finally, we took to the shore for the nights camp, admiring the new friends we made that day. We looked forward to the next days of meeting up with our coastal comrades and sharing in the experiences of the sound.