Diving in Alaska offers amazing experiences filled with a wide array of different adventures including moon jellyfish blooms that congregrate in the waters of Prince William Sound.
Divers visiting the lodge have even greater luck at capturing great photography due to the clarity of Port Fidalgo and its realtively clear water compared to the surrounding area. These blooms are similiar to the great migrations found on land in Africa. Amongst these blooms you'll find predator jellyfish hanging out on the outskirts looking for prey, aptly named Lions Mane Jellyfish. These same jellyfish offer refuge for small fish using the large "bells" to drift along and feed from.
Divers and topside
MOON JELLYFISH BLOOMS IN PRINCE WILLIAM SOUND
Ever felt like you were visiting another world?! Moon Jellyfish blooms (aurelia aurita) or aggregate jellyfish blooms occur every summer along the coast of Alaska.
Port Fidalgo in Prince William Sound offers the clearest water in the area, free from silt and glacier runoff so that divers can get a extreme view of just how massive these blooms get get in size. Ranging in the thousands, these jellyfish don't sting and congregate in huge numbers to reproduce. They are a carnivore, often feeding on small zooplankton. Found almost always blue in color, some will be lucky enough to see a purple one. If so, you've just spotted the female surrounded by endless males jocking for position with her. One very unique characteristic of jellyfish blooms around the world is the fact that is doesn't happen very often or under conditions that allow for pre-planned trips to catch a bloom in the act. However, we are extremely lucky to say this is one very dependable tour that is offered at Ravencroft. The trick is spotting them as we travel to dive sites. When I hear someone say, "hey, it looks like there is an island under the water over there". Thats a telltale sign there's a jelly smack just under the water. And it seems with the raising water tempertures in Alaska, we are seeing more and more blooms each year. During this explosion of jellyfish, both divers and snorklers can swim in these vast migrations. These blooms usually appear on the surface of the water and allow snorkelers the chance to swim on the surface, while divers will sink down mid column. The blooms can reach hundreds of feet so there's plenty of space to get a shot free from other divers. This is a extremely unique adventure and there are but a handful of area's in the world where jellyfish congregate like this, but nothing truley like here in Alaska! Along with Moon Jellyfish, the Lions Mane Jellyfish is another beautiful species to photograph. But divers beware, these one’s sting. Although not deadly, they will leave you with a sting hurting like a bee might hurt. The bells are harmless, but the trailing tentacles that can sometimes reach 15’ or more can sometimes be hard to see. So, make sure to swim around the front and stay away from the rear of this orange invertebrate.
Jellyfish blooms are amazing to see and even more amazing to swim with. If this is something you'd like to do, please ask us for more information on when to see them and where to find them. This is an adventure that can only be found in specific spots around the globe! Your hosts have enjoyed working with amateur to professional photographers and videographers throughout the years. Our prospective is to approach every encounter with deep appreciation for the moment. We genuinely love the outdoors and the animals that inhabit our area. Boone has years of experience mapping and documenting wildlife migrations and is excited to show you the diversity of life that make Alaska their home.
IN PRINCE WILLIAM SOUND
Alaska enjoys some of the best cold-water diving in the world! During spring diving, our typical water temperatures range from cold days at 36 to warmer days late spring at 55 degree's. Visibility at this time can reach 30-50 feet. Although our tempertures become comfortable in the summer for 7mm wetsuits, we recommend dry suits for all our divers during this time period. These trips occur during mid summer between the months of July and August when there is an explosion salmon to our area. The tour revolves around 3 dives each day (weather dependant) with unique activities scheduled during the week. This is a tour that combines the best of what Alaska has to offer above and below the waterline. Scuba diving in a coldwater environment will surprisingly yield the same experiences often found in well known warm water destination's like the gold coast of Australia. But the nutrient reach waters surrounding alaska provide fertile grounds for rich invertrbrate life, colorful coral and large marine life. This diverse underwater ecosytem is largely unexplored like its southern Alaska and British Columbia counterparts and some exploratory dives will be conducted to continue to add unique dive spots to our ever-building list of dive locations around the Prince William Sound area. During your stay, there will also be additional activities and adventures that will enhance the overall trip from just a diving destination to a complete Alaska experience from top to bottom. We are the first to offer these adventures to the world and have a passion for what we do, who we share it with and the awe inspiring place that we call Alaska and home!
Above is one of our dive sites called "Magic Garden". Its in mostly protected waters and a great place to see a diversity of wildlife. As you can see the waters can be quite clear at times. And Port Fidalgo offers the clearest waters in all of Prince William Sound. This is due to the fact that all mountain glaciers in the area filter to the outside of the port. Rain is the only factor to cause low visibility and usually clears out in a couple days. This is the reason we're able to dive in relatively clear waters throughout the summer. For this reason, we believe the aquatics life is more abundant in Port Fidalgo compared to the surrounding ports that have heavily glaciated waters that only clear up in deep water.
DIVING WITH WILD SALMON
WILD SALMON FISH
Snorkeling with salmon is more fun than you would imagine. You get to see one of nature’s greatest migration stories unfold its last chapter as these fish return to the very stream they were born.
Almost every creek that produces a stream of freshwater into the open ocean will have salmon trying to navigate it to spawn and then perish. Each year, the amount of fish that return can vary. But the numbers usually end up in the thousands, so it’s hard to see any real changes that occur.
There are many streams and creeks that inhabit Port Fidalgo, but after many years of searching for the clearest one’s, we’ve been able to locate two that are very clear and produce the best photos for our clients. Both creeks hold a variety of different species and include Dolly Varden Trout, Chum Salmon and the more abundant Pink Salmon. With bears, eagles, seals and orca's after them, these fish can spook easily. The best approach is to lay still in the water and before long you’ll be surrounded by hundreds of fish, up close and bumping into you from every direction.
DIVERS MUST BE PHYSICALLY FIT
We'll make the trip during the highest tide during the week to cut down on the walk to the salmon stream. These streams are below the high tide mark so they can be easy to walk to on the intial trip to the creek, but as the tide drops we'll have to walk a longer distance back to the boat where the water is deeper and the boat can access the beach. All guests are required to hike with their gear and must be physically fit to make the walk. The trip is approx. 4 hrs total. One hour there, two hours at the creek and one hour back to the lodge. Divers will be split into groups with around one total hour under water with the salmon.
DIVING WITH GIANT PACIFIC OCTOPUS
DIVING UNDER THE DOCK AT NUDIBRANCH GARDEN
ICEBERG SNORKELING AT COLUMBIA GLACIER
Snorkel with an iceberg (tours usually reserved for Antartica or the Artic)
We've put together one-of-a-kind diving tours that focus on getting you maximum time under the surface, coupled with equally unique snorkeling adventures and topside photography. Snorkelers will have the chance to jump in with recently calved iceberg. But this can be dangerous and we spend time finding you the safest one to swim up to. There are many factors picking the right iceberg to play with and we will brief you on how to approach each one safely. These are trips not offered anywhere else in the world and will leave you with an unforgettable experience that can't be beat. Let us show why these trips are quickly becoming "bucket list" trips for many divers across the world. Be assured, you'll be snapping photos from sunrise to after the sunset for northern lights.
We spend a majority of time between Port Fidalgo and Columbia Bay. We'll also visit Bulls's Head where a large sea lion rookery is located. The big highlight of the week will be visiting Columbia Glacier and all the animals that make that area home. What really makes this tour a one-of-a-kind of adventure is that you'll have the opportunity to dawn gear and swim with icebergs giving photographers an over/under perspective of these icy blue behemoths. There is no other photography tour in Alaska like this one!
WORLD CLASS EAGLE PHOTOGRAPHY
Witness Eagle predation during the annual
Salmon run in Prince William Sound.
ON SALMON MIGRATION
During salmon shark season our resident eagle population will feed on the incoming salmon migration that occurs all over Alaska. Birds will often be seen perched in wait for a fish to break the surface and quickly scream down to snatch it. We’ve had overwhelming success with our topside photographers producing some amazing topside shoots with birds in flight, talons stretched out in anticipation of the meal to come. Each year we've had many photographers leave with outstanding photo's. Evening trips are best for this tour but be assured if you've never tried to photograph an eagle, you'll be a pro by the end of your trip. These birds are plentiful and we work with a couple of pairs of resident eagles in the area that have are accustom to seeing snorkelers and boats traversing the area.
EVENING EXCURSIONS IN PORT FIDALGO
Each evening we'll head out after dinner to look for topside animals. So don't forget your telephoto lens.
Bears will be our main focus on these trips, but there will be many other aquitic and land based animals to see each animal as we travel the coastlines looking for animal movement. Port Fidalgo is a large area, but there are particular creeks we'll go in search for bears. Along the way, we may encounter whales, sea lions, sea otters, land otters, eagles, seals, deer and many other critters. so keep your head on a swivel and your camera at the ready.
NORTHERN LIGHTS IN AUGUST
Northern Lights: August 1st, the sun will set at 11pm and August 31st the sun sets at 10pm. Weather plays a huge factor and clouds can spoil your success to capture a solar storm erupting. This is view from the lodge dock.
EXPEDITION PACKAGE ITINERARY
Trip synopsis: Small group size. Remote lodge in the heart of Prince William Sound. Private dive boat for topside photography with a focus on diving on Moon Jellyfish Blooms, wild salmon and known dive sites in the area. Package Details and Whats Included: 7 day/6 night Diving Package. First and last days are travel days. Includes 5 total days diving, meals, and weights (if you need rental gear, we can direct you to a local dive shop). Transportation from Valdez, AK to the remote Ravencroft Lodge and back is also included. Accomodations are single occupancy. Self-guided paddleboards available at lodge for evening use. Alcohol/soft drinks, large heavy snacks & gratuities not included. Travel details: Fly to Anchorage, AK. Then fly on a smaller commercial flight to Valdez, AK. We recommend that you arrive a day before and leave the following morning from your departure day from the lodge. Divers arriving the day before should allow for weather delays into Valdez, AK that may happen from time to time. But arriving early allows you to take advantage of visiting Valdez and Solomon Hatchery where bears, sea lions and eagles can be found feasting on salmon runs. Ask for more details. Disclaimer: Remember that animals are free to roam the open ocean and topside animals are free to roam the vast wilderness. There are no fences or nets keeping them to a specific area to ensure sightings. So please keep in mind that interactions are highly likely during the week, but not guaranteed. Guests will need to sign releases before visiting the lodge and all divers must be able to swim and be in good physical condition to pertake in all activities. Group Size: 6 Experience Level: Divers need Advanced Open Water Certification. All divers must have atleast 30 logged dives and dove at least once in the last 60 days. Drysuit divers must have atleast 15 logged dives before arrival. Divers must be physically fit and be able to carry own dive gear. What to bring: Guests should bring all personal dive equipment. 7mm wetsuit or drysuit, BCD, Safe Second, Gauges, Dive Computer, SMB, Mask, Snorkel, Fins, warm cloths, telephoto lens and what ever else you think you'll need because the lodge is very remote. Tanks and weights are provided at the lodge. Dive depth: Max dive depth is 60' Equipment Requirements: Dive computer and SMB. Must be knowledgable on use of both. Time Period: July & Aug Tour Focus: Diving on Moon Jellyfish Blooms and diving surrounding dive sites. Other Activities/Animals: Columbia Glacier, Wild Salmon, Eagles, Sea Lions, Puffins, Orca's, Humpback's, Brown and Black Bears, Stika Blacktail deer, Sea Otters, Lions Mane Jellyfish Day 1: Travel day from Valdez, AK to Lodge. Depart at 10am. Lunch not included, so be sure to bring a lunch when you arrive. We'll swing by Columbia Glacier for a quick iceberg snorkel dip and look for sea lions, whales and otters (weather permitting). Then check into rooms and prep gear, with trip briefing/orientation on diving procedures after dinner. Day 2-6: Breakfast will be served at 7am at the lodge. We will aim for 3 dives each day. Guests will be asked to board the boat at 8am for depature. Lunchs will be brought on the boat and guests can access their lunch anytime. Diving ends at 2pm. If you still have energy after diving, you'll have free time to 5pm for self-guided adventures such as hiking, beachcoming, paddleboarding, dock snorkeling or just simply hang out at the main lodge with other guests until dinner is served at 5:30pm. Evening topside photography trips for eagles, bears and whales are 7-8pm. Day 7: Travel day back to Valdez, AK. Sit down breakfast 7am at lodge. Depart at 9am for Valdez.
BLACK AND BROWN