Jun 16, 2018 - National Geographic Sea Bird
Today we chose to explore Bailey Bay. This narrow fjord is an offshoot of Behm Canal cut into the granitic bedrock of Cleveland Peninsula northeast of Ketchikan. This visit was a first for National Geographic Sea Bird, and as such, we sent staff members into the forest early to scout the terrain. Some of us enjoyed the morning by exploring the quiet water on kayaks, or stand-up paddleboards and many took expedition landing craft tours to search for wildlife and wilderness. Several minks were seen along the shoreline in one small cove, and at another location, we spotted a different member of the same family, the short-tail weasel or as it is more commonly known, “ermine” for its luxurious white fur coat. Our animal was cloaked in its summer brown, blending fairly well within the forest, but standing out on the rocks of the shoreline. These small creatures have a resting metabolic rate that is ten-percent higher than other mammals their size. This fact produces a voracious appetite that necessitates nearly constant hunting for the small rodents upon which the weasel survives.
After morning operations were complete and our lunch consumed, we divided into groups to explore the area seen by our early scouting party. Leisurely hikers and/or photo enthusiasts took advantage of a flower-filled meadow near the shore, while the moderate and aerobic hikers headed up a forest-service trail. We have been blessed with extraordinary weather this week and today was no exception. The sun was out and it was warm and beautiful. Only one problem, BUGS! With the warm weather, we shared our trail with swarms of insects. Most didn’t bite, but none-the-less, they made the hike a test of one’s patience. Such is life in the field! We all returned to National Geographic Sea Bird to ready ourselves for the remaining adventures of the day.
We didn’t wait long! As recap was about to begin, our expedition leader called a halt and directed us to the bow for an incredible pre-dinner viewing of a pod of killer whales. For nearly an hour we sailed close to a about seven whales that included two large males with deformed dorsal fins. We watched these apex predators glide through the bay and listened as their exhalations produced an audable whoosh while sending a mist over ten feet into the air.
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