May 30, 2018 - National Geographic Sea Bird
We woke up today in the peaceful waters of DeGroff Bay, with uncharacteristically beautiful weather, and even the typically-hidden volcano of Mount Edgecumbe was visible. The mirror-like waters beckoned us to explore, and so some of us got into kayaks while others explored the forests and the intertidal zone on foot; we all enjoyed the richness of the wilderness. We got acquainted with a pristine piece of the temperate rain forest by meeting the usual suspects: Sitka spruce and western hemlock forming a towering canopy. The undergrowth inspired us with various plants and flowers just starting to bloom in the early spring. And the low tide offered us marvelous opportunities to marvel at the resilience of the purple crabs, Pacific blue mussels, barnacles, and sea stars that dotted the bay’s tidal flats. The afternoon provided for great wildlife-viewing from the ship, as we spotted two bears walking ashore nearby. Although we stayed pretty quiet as we whispered in awe from the bow, the bears would often turn towards us before returning to eat grass; with a sense of smell 60 times better than ours, they surely knew we were close. These bears are eager for the annual return of salmon, which not only nourish not the big brown bears here, but also more than a hundred species of plants and animals and plants in this ecosystem. Tomorrow we will explore one of the most spectacular places to view wildlife in Southeast Alaska: the Inian Islands, in hopes of seeing Steller sea lions, humpback whales, and sea otters!
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