Chatham Strait and Saook Bay

Jul 16, 2018 - National Geographic Sea Lion

Our exploration of coastal Southeast Alaska took off with a roar not long after we departed Sitka last night, with the appearance of a brown bear sow and three cubs as well as a gray whale – a very rare visitor to the Inside Passage! A hard act to follow, but Alaska did not disappoint as we woke to our first morning aboard National Geographic Sea Lion. Our early risers were treated to a sighting of two bears shortly after 6:00 a.m., while the rest of us were able to enjoy the view of a solo bear wandering the shoreline later that day. Dall’s porpoises, harbor seals and sea otters, and a distant humpback whale also made their appearance – and all before lunch! 

National Geographic Sea Lion skirted high winds and stormy weather on Chatham Strait by staying in the more protected waters of Peril Strait (odd though the name may sound, it was a much calmer and more enjoyable cruise in the latter). After lunch, we embarked on our first expedition hike in Saook Bay. Bald eagles flew overhead to greet us in this extremely remote wilderness, and our group got more than a taste of the true Alaska bushwhacking experience! We explored an old growth forest of towering Sitka spruce and western hemlock, looking for telltale signs of bear scat and enjoying the first of many edible summer berries. Half of our group took to the water on expedition kayaks and stand-up paddleboards, exploring the tidal inlet and a nearby meadow as well as the reappearance of the sun later that afternoon. 

Shortly before dinner, National Geographic Sea Lion lifted anchor and we sailed into Chatham Strait, where we were treated to an incredible display of transient killer whales playing in the waters near our ship around sunset. Who knows what the next day might have in store?

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About the Author

Lauren Buchholz

Naturalist/Certified Photo Instructor

Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, Lauren’s wanderlust has taken her from the Appalachians to the Rockies to the Southern Alps.

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