Southeast Alaska is undeniably a place of abundance. Over our six days on the Sea Lion, we have seen spruce-dense and eagle-full forests, glacial waters with inquisitive harbor seals, and silty grassy meadows streaked with prints from otters, bears, and moose. There is life, connection, and community everywhere you look.
I was grateful to feel that on the boat as well. Everyone on board had gratitude for the spaces we were able to explore and learn from. Alaska has a long history of extraction where people have come to take advantage of the resources, animals, and people there, and before my trip, I was nervous about contributing to that. But now after talking to the naturalists and other guests, I’ve come to accept that humans, just like other animals do need and use parts of the environment. Our responsibility is to not cause damage and be as subsistent as we can. Along with the attention to not take away too much, I also realized I need to give back to spaces I’m in. I took away food, water, memories, and knowledge from Alaska, and in return I made sure to pick up trash, spread seeds, and not bother animals when I could. Going back to DC, I’m eager to grow the connections I have to the natural elements of my urban space so that eventually with volunteering I help can grow forests where we once had a yard; a river where we once had a stream; a family where we once had a group of strangers. I’m so grateful for this experience and am eager provide you with Alaska’s story around lipids, from candlefish to whales to oil reserves.
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. Read all the stories from the expedition in our Astonishing Alaska series.