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Harriman Expedition Retraced

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August 3, 2001 Souvenir Album:

Chiswell Islands; Kenai Fjords National Park


Images | Video (click images for larger view)

Chiswell island

Part of the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge, the Chiswell Islands are in the Gulf of Alaska, southwest of Kenai Fjords National Park. The rugged, rocky islands can only be reached by ship, boat or seaplane, and the steep cliffs and lack of land mammals (including humans) have made the islands an important nesting site for seabirds. Notice the sealions on the ledge. (Photo by National Ocean Service, NOAA).

Chiswell arch

Earthquakes, high tides and pounding seas have all combined to sculpt the Chiswell Islands. This area of Alaska has intense seismic activity, and the tortured bedrock gives ample evidence of the lifting, dropping, folding and grinding of immense forces. A picturesque stone arch offers a prime example of nature's artistic handiwork. (Photo by National Ocean Service, NOAA).

Kittiwake nests

Black-legged kittiwakes seem to favor almost microscopic imperfections in sheer rock faces as preferred nesting places. Though their coloration is similar to that of gulls, kittiwakes are speedy, graceful, even beautiful fliers, more prone to bursts of speed than the almost effortless soaring common to gulls. (Photo by National Ocean Service, NOAA).

Puffin nest

Almost invisible in the center of this narrow crack in the cliff face, a horned puffin sits on its nest. In this area, kittiwakes and puffins often nest in close proximity, but the kittiwakes tend to pick exposed rock faces, while the puffins prefer to burrow into more sheltered cracks and clefts. (Photo by National Ocean Service, NOAA).

Chiswell sealions

Sealions, a common site along the West Coast, are incredibly graceful, swift swimmers, but look very awkward and "slug-like" on land. On the other hand, they are incredible climbers, managing to climb on wharves, buoys and other challenging man-made structures. This group, resting on one of the Chiswell islands, managed to climb a cliff face that would be a challenge to a human with two hands and feet. (Photo by National Ocean Service, NOAA).

Chiswell starfish

The Chiswells seem to rise up almost straight out of the sea, with no horizontal beaches. Starfish and barnacles don't seem to mind, displaying no trouble clinging to vertical rock faces. These three starfish seem as if they were designed to cling to the Zodiac's red plastic gas tank. (Photo by National Ocean Service, NOAA).

Chiswell puffin

Puffins, except when they are nesting, spend nearly all their time at sea. Their stocky bodies and powerful wings allow them to "fly" with amazing grace -- and speed -- underwater. Flying through the air is a bit trickier, and they often have some trouble getting airborne; when startled, they are more inclined to dive and swim away than fly away. This particular horned puffin is heading southwest, apparently for Hawaii, though it is probably just gathering food and will soon return to its nest. (Photo by National Ocean Service, NOAA).

Chiswell ship

For those with a taste of solitude, the Chiswell Islands on an overcast, rainy day are almost perfect. Except for the expedition ship and Zodiacs, the only thing seen in any direction are a few islands and, far off, indistinct shapes that might more islands, or might be just clouds. (Photo by National Ocean Service, NOAA).

Aaron Cronwell

Aron Crowell, an anthropologist with the Smithsonian's Arctic Studies Center, discusses a house pit on the shores of Harris Bay, in Kenai Fjords National Park. Expedition members and the film crew add some color to the wet forest scene. (Photo by Jonas K. Parker).

Harris bay

On Good Friday, March 28, 1964, the second largest earthquake ever recorded, with a magnitude of 9.2 on the Richter scale, shook a huge portion of Alaska. Far away from the epicenter in College Fjord, the land around Harris Bay dropped, and these trees eventually died as salt water poisoned their roots. (Photo by Jonas K. Parker).

Kim Heacox

When he isn't serving as the official Harriman Retraced photographer, Kim Heacox is a renown wilderness photographer. Ashore in Harris Bay, he impressed his companions with his fearless climbing ability, searching for a good photographic vantage point. ( (Photo by Jonas K. Parker).

Harris Bay

Sometimes a picture is just a picture: even through rain and drizzle, dim light and overcast clouds, Kenai Fjords is heartbreakingly beautiful. (Photo by National Ocean Service, NOAA).


Video

Chiswell Island cleft

The Chiswell Islands are part of the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge, and a noted bird sanctuary. This sea cave, while not particularly attractive to humans, is jammed with nesting seabirds, mostly kittiwakes. The clip was taken from a Zodiac, attempting to get closer to the cleft in heavy swells. (QuickTime format, 320 x 240 pixels, 10 seconds, 1.6 megabytes. RealVideo alternative.) (Photo by National Ocean Service, NOAA)


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For information on the Harriman Retraced Expedition e-mail: harriman2001@science.smith.edu

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