Another day of Alaskan sunshine greeted us as we started our last full day of adventure aboard National Geographic Sea Bird. We set anchor in Kelp Bay on Baranof Island in the Tongass National Forest. With calm waters and clear skies, the conditions were perfect for spotting wildlife. Just after breakfast, we spotted the wispy blows of humpback whales in the distance. We began the day’s activities with expedition landing craft rides, and we caught up with a humpback whale and explored the intertidal zone. After lunch, National Geographic Sea Bird transited farther into one of the south arms of Kelp Bay, and we set out for an afternoon of kayaking in the shimmering waters and hiking and bushwhacking in the surrounding wilderness. We were fortunate enough to encounter a coastal brown bear, and we watched as he dug in the dirt, rubbed his back on a tree, and eventually lumbered away into the forest. We finished the day with a commemorative slideshow of all our experiences throughout the week in the company of newfound friends. We felt a sense of gratitude for the beautiful places we have had the joy to explore.
National Geographic Sea Bird
Inian Islands and Port Althrop
Weather: Cloudy and misty with periods of sunshine Fog blanketed our area of operations as we anchored early in the morning. It only showed signs of lifting as we encountered a bull orca swimming alone on the edge of Cross Sound. We watched with bated breaths as the power and grace of this animal held our attention. We eventually carried on and shortly thereafter, guests and staff alike were treated to a show of perhaps the most thrilling display of bald eagle activity this naturalist has ever seen. An incoming tide rushed through the narrow channels and along the benthic topography around the Inian Islands, bringing with it a wave of nutrients through upwelling currents. It’s hard to overstate the volume of water that was spilling onto the surface from the chilled depths. Any unfortunate rockfish or halibut caught up in said current met the awaiting wildlife above. Steller sea lions by the dozen worked the swirling waters and were rewarded handsomely. Their harvest didn’t go unnoticed as a sizable convocation of bald eagles plucked their bounty from the sea. Among other species observed were several humpback whales and harbor porpoises. The day continued as we entered Port Althrop, nestled in a mountain-rimmed cove of Chichagof Island. The island is home to xóots or coastal brown bear as evidenced by their trails in the intertidal sediment. Encountering these tracks is a humbling experience, and Naturalist Linda Burback captured the moments with her plaster casting kit. The hikes were a perfect way to enjoy the remote wilderness that surrounded us. Moreover, a paddle on the kayaks offered a peaceful conclusion to the operations of the day. Stay curious. Stay inspired.