Fox Creek and the Inian Islands

Jun 05, 2018 - National Geographic Sea Lion


Gliding into our anchorage at Fox Creek, observers on the bow noticed Sitka Black-tailed deer walking the coastline at our landing site this morning. Hikers took to the beach in search of their tracks and found multiple prints belonging to not only deer but brown bears as well! One set of bear prints was noticeably larger than the other, suggesting a mother and cub had walked the shoreline earlier this morning.

Wandering further into the vegetation, we discovered deer bones, a sea otter skull, blooming shooting stars, and a very special place belonging to the bears. For reasons still not completely understood, brown bears walk in exactly the same steps, year after year, creating depressions in the moss and earth. These tracks may be centuries old and are what we call “perennial bear tracks”.

The weather and our good fortune continued into the afternoon with a visit to the Inian Islands. We encountered many different species of animals foraging for their afternoon meals; a sea otter feasting on a basket star, sea lions thrashing salmon and flatfish at the surface, and gulls diving in for an easy snack. This area in Cross Sound is incredibly productive, with churning currents, a flooding tide, and upwelling water. It is truly a privilege to bear witness to it all; soaking in the sunshine and watching animals make their living in the sea.

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About the Author

Emily Pickering

Naturalist/Expedition Diver

Emily was raised by two veterinarians in the mountains of Central Oregon, where she spent much of her time on the back of a horse dreaming about the sea. Her fascination was solidified by visits to the Oregon Coast Aquarium and summers spent gazing into tide pools and listening for killer whales off the coast of British Colombia.  

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