Astonishing Alaska

Astonishing Alaska

Alaska is often said to be on the "front lines of climate change" — particularly for the U.S., as it is warming faster than only any state. Our Planet Forward 2022 Storyfest Winners were well aware of Alaska's precarious position as they prepared to embark on Lindblad Expeditions' National Geographic Sea Lion for a 6-day exploration of the remote wilderness of Alaska's Southeastern coast.

Yet, the students soon learned that Alaska is much more than cleaving glaciers and oil extraction. It's home to marvelous creatures, awe-inspiring landscapes, and a deep sense of connection to our marvelous planet.

As storytellers, the Storyfest winners captured their experiences and revelations, and brought them back to the lower 48. Scroll on to read these stories and more about the astonishing sites and experiences of Alaska!

Editor's Note: Lindblad Expeditions, our Planet Forward Storyfest Competition partner, made this series possible by providing winners with an experiential learning opportunity aboard one of their ships. All editorial content is created independently. We thank Lindblad Expeditions for their continued support of our project.

How do you move the Planet Forward? Tweet us @planet_forward or contribute to the conversation with your own story.

Hub Content

(Alan Vernon/flickr)

Planet Forward Correspondent | Ithaca College
HappyWhale, a website created in 2015, uses a unique algorithm to identify and track humpback whales. It relies on photographs from ordinary people to further scientific research.
Digital Editor, Planet Forward
When our 2022 Storyfest winners, traveling with Lindblad Expeditions, explored Alaska's vast and remote terrain, they were surprised that instead of feeling separated, they felt more connected.
SUNY Environmental Science and Forestry
In this sequel to “Coastal Degradation Through Fresh Eyes,” Amka and Suka meet a new friend who introduces them to the issue of melting glaciers and revitalizes them to get back on track with their environmental mission.
A tight shot of glacial ice showing the ice's rocky texture and deep blue color.

Up close with the deep blue of glacial ice. (Lisa Palmer/Planet Forward)

Sr. Editor & Education Lead, Planet Forward
Whether it’s a natural landscape, a community, or a feeling inside you, spending time on life’s boundaries can transform your perspective.
The view from green-blue waters of a mountain in the distance between two rocky landmasses in the midground.

(Jennifer Vilcarino/George Washington University)

George Washington University
Climate change doesn't just exist in data but before our eyes. Lindblad Expeditions naturalist Tim Martin explains that the rust-colored trimlines imprinted on Alaskan mountains paint a clear picture of glacial recession.
Slender fish handing from a line between wooden posts with large trees, mountains, and a body of water in the background.

Sun-dried candlefish, also known as hooligan, eulachon, and oolichan. (Brodie Guy/Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0))

George Washington University
Today, petroleum is one of Alaska's main exports, but the use of oil in the region goes back thousands of years to the Tlingit people's harvesting of lipid-dense and flammable candlefish. Can this history illuminate a way to a green-fueled future?
A bright blue sky stands behind towering mountains carved deep in the center by ancient glaciers. On the right a bright orange life jacket and camera lens are visible of a photographer capturing the scene aboard a small boat. Blue-green water is immediately in the foreground.

Ancient glaciers carved this canyon in Tracy Arm Fjord thousands of years ago. Our group sailed via Zodiac to the glacier’s face. (Halley Hughes/University of Arizona)

Planet Forward Sr. Correspondent | University of Arizona
An expedition with Lindblad in Southeast Alaska shows the realities of climate change and uncovers the mysteries behind the "language" of rocks.

(Victoria Middleton/Planet Forward)

SUNY Environmental Science and Forestry
Storyfest 2022 winner Delaney Graham reflects on the scale of Alaska — and how that grand size helped put things into perspective.

(Jennifer Cuyuch/George Washington University)

George Washington University
Farzona Comnas, one of our 2022 Storyfest winners and travelers, shares her thoughts about the experience in Alaska, and her feelings about human impact.

(Halley Hughes/University of Arizona)

Planet Forward Sr. Correspondent | University of Arizona
Storyfest 2022 traveler Halley Hughes gives her thoughts on the trip to Alaska with Lindblad Expeditions, from wildlife to plant life — and what new inspirations she found.

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