From the National Geographic Sea Bird in Alaska
May 14, 2012 - National Geographic Sea Bird
Kelp Bay, Baranof Island
From a gigantic frothy cascade of white water, to the “treasure hunt” hike in the Middle Arm and our small boat adventure in the South Arm of Kelp Bay, our first day aboard the National Geographic Sea Bird has been quite extraordinary.
In Southeast Alaska’s temperate rainforest towering Sitka spruces and western hemlocks dominate the canopy while the understory is covered in mosses and draped with lichens. Green on green in various stages of decomposition, our walk carried us over logs and through blueberry thickets, across the rocky beach and along a bear trail. Interspersed with the mosses were bones… of the magnificent coastal brown bear, the diminutive Sitka black-tailed deer, the skull of a bald eagle, the wing of tundra swan.
Near the river at the end of our meander, some of the first flowers of spring greeted the group. Magenta of salmonberry and shooting star lit bits of the newly green landscape as we strolled back to the Zodiacs waiting by the riverbank.
Small boat adventures brought glorious close encounters with the natural world in Kelp Bay’s South Arm this afternoon. Kayakers and Zodiac riders watched several humpback whales lunge feeding in the steep fiord. Marbled murrletes flirted and called to each other with their plaintive song. A land otter made a brief appearance as did a very fancy male yellow-rumped warbler.
But the crème de la crème came at the head of the inlet when a mother brown bear and her two second-year cubs appeared along the shore, eating the newly sprouted grasses and sedges and walking across a snow field undisturbed by our astonished gaze.