Another source of awe and amazement today was the abundant wildlife that we were privileged to see in their native habitat - harbor seals, sea lions, sea otters, birds, and especially the whales!
Actually most of the whales we saw today were really dolphins! I found out later that Orcas or Killer Whales are part of the dolphin family. They were given the name "killer" by ancient sailors from observing groups of orcas hunting and preying on larger whale species. They called them "whale killer" and somehow it got turned around to "killer whale" and they became a feared species. While they are apex predators (meaning no one preys on them) they are not a threat to humans in the wild. They are very intelligent and cooperate together in sophisticated hunting techniques which is why they can prey on larger species. They hunt fish using echolocation. Also seals, sea birds, and other ocean creatures. They are highly social and travel in family groups called "pods". Because of orcas highly complex social bonds, many marine experts have concerns about how humane (or inhumane) it is to keep them in captivity.
Although I've been on several whale watches in various places in the world, I've never seen as many orcas close up as we saw today. It was truly an incredible day and a perfect day to end an incredible trip!
Back in Seward after our cruise, we quickly loaded the bus and headed to Anchorage to catch our flights back home. By this time all of us were very anxious about getting to the airport with plenty of time to catch our planes. Our plane left at 7:45 p.m. for our 7-8 hour flight to Atlanta. We had very comfortable seats and the time passed surprisingly quick. Easy change in Atlanta and then home, tired and happy, by 8:30 a.m. our time.