Aboard National Geographic Sea Lion, guests were still buzzing after an incredible wildlife day in the Inian Islands yesterday. Under the expert guidance of our expedition leader and captain, we went to Pavlof Bay in hopes of the chance to view coastal brown bears at Pavlof Falls. A population of pinky (or humpy) salmon runs up this river and jumps the falls using an installed fish ladder. The local brown bears have been known to frequent the falls to catch salmon midair as they try to jump up the falls to spawn in the river and lake above. We did not have any sightings, as it was a very low tide and still early in the season for bears to be enticed to the falls. We headed back to the ship and cruised for more wildlife sightings. Guests were treated to a short bear encounter from the bow as a brown bear meandered along the forest’s edge. Perhaps deciding it was too hot to continue, the bear ducked into the shaded forest area. Guests admired quintessential Southeast Alaska: views of channels of water flanked by beautiful shorelines and towering mountains. We even spotted multiple humpback whales.
National Geographic Sea Bird
This morning we woke in Saook Bay with beautifully calm overcast conditions, mist on the mountains, and an intermittent sprinkling of rain. Three brown bears were spotted onshore from the ship’s bow before 7 a.m. by our early-rising naturalist. Several guests joined the early morning observations, while others joined the stretch class with our wellness specialist. After breakfast, kayakers and paddleboarders took to Saook Bay for a peaceful paddle. Global Explorers had a special shore expedition to experience the intertidal zone, where they learned to make kelp horns and rattles. Then we ramped up the energy for both participants and spectators during our exciting Polar Plunge into the cold Southeast Alaskan waters. With everyone back on board to enjoy conversations over lunch, we sailed to a small bay for an afternoon of hiking on the trailhead to Lake Eva. Hiking in the temperate rainforest after this morning’s light rain provided many photo opportunities of water droplets on leaves and moss, fabulous fungi, and vibrant berries. One highlight for everyone on the trail was seeing a mama brown bear with her young cub in the creek. She was catching pink salmon and sharing it with her cub. We even saw them both take short swims. With the excitement of this sighting still fresh on our minds, we then watched a cluster of humpback whales spout and fluke as we approached the fantail of National Geographic Sea Bird. A short while later these same whales began bubble-net and lunge feeding! Wow! There’s just so much to experience here in Southeast Alaska.