Pavlof Harbor, Chichagof Island

Jun 27, 2014 - National Geographic Sea Bird


Pavlof Harbor, Chichagof Island
Taking the polar plunge.
Pavlof Harbor, Chichagof Island
Kayaking in the bay.

We were greeted early this morning with a stunning sunrise at 4 a.m. as we made our way south down Chatham Strait. The mid-summer early morning light played across the mountains of Chichagof Island as we pulled into Pavlof Harbor for our morning activities of kayaking and hiking. The tide was extremely low and the inner tidal walk was popular among the guests as they perused the shore looking for invertebrates such as sea star and limpets. Other guests enjoyed the solitude of the bay on kayaks with salmon jumping around them as they ready themselves for the upstream surge in a few weeks to being their spawning process. At low tide we were able to kayak up the small stream leading to the waterfall until the current turned us back to the saltwater. Meanwhile the other guests divided up into a long walk around Pavlof Pond to see a beaver lodge and others joined the shorter photo and natural history walks. 

Pavlof Harbor is an important salmon stream that is surrounded by old growth forest and a high concentration of bears. Within weeks, the pink salmon will be running in force. The Southeast Alaska sun warmed our bodies and we strolled through the forest and kayaked the bay. This created the perfect opportunity for a “polar plunge” when we returned to the ship and over two dozen of the guest participated in a quick dive into the low 50 degree waters for a true Alaskan experience.  

Back aboard, we were treated to a unique experience of a “live dive” conducted by our undersea specialist, Justin Hoffman. The guests gathered in our forward lounge and witnessed his dive live as he explored the undersea world filming octopus and sea bass. The most amazing aspect of this unique technology was that he was able to answer questions from the guests underwater! This was truly a treat and a great way to experience the undersea of Alaska. 

We rounded out our perfect Southeast Alaska week by following a pod of killer whales into the sunset as we towards Sitka on our final day of this incredible journey on the National Geographic Sea Bird.

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About the Author

Rich Reid

National Geographic Photographer

Award-winning photographer and filmmaker Rich Reid has specialized in environmental and adventure photography for over two decades. On assignment with National Geographic Adventure magazine, he cycled Alaska’s Inside Passage by ferry and explored California’s Gaviota Coast by bike and kayak. North American Nature Photography Association elected Rich as a Fellow for his significant contributions to the nature photography industry, and he was a finalist for the BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year for his time-lapse video documenting forest fire ecology.

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