Pavlof Harbor and Chatham Strait, Alaska

Aug 25, 2018 - National Geographic Sea Lion

The morning started off with cloud cover and a light drizzle. The clouds hid the mountains of Chichagof and Admiralty Islands and the rain reminded us to wear our rain gear. As we anchored in Pavlof Harbor, at the entrance to Freshwater Bay, a brown bear could be seen in Pavlof Stream.

The kayakers set out for Big Cedar and Little Cedar Islands and were able to see anemones as they paddled overtop the underwater forests. With calm weather, it was the perfect day for a paddle. Those of us not setting out in kayaks headed to shore to see what we could find near the waterfall and fish ladder along the stream. On the walk to the waterfall, evidence of the local bear community could be seen all along the trail. Uprooted shore plants and fresh, berry- and salmon-filled scat assured us that this is a bear area. It was a beautiful day to enjoy the sound of the waterfall and see if we could view some brown bears as we sat at their dinner table. Some of us were able to view two adult brown bears and two COYs (cub of the year) as they searched the stream for food.

Just before lunch the brave crew, dressed in onesies in the style of unicorns, dragons, monkeys, and flying squirrels, took the polar plunge into Alaska’s cold waters. After setting the pace, some of the brave guests followed suit and jumped into the frigid waters of Southeast Alaska.

In the afternoon, National Geographic Sea Lion made its way south, through Chatham Strait, as the naturalists and bridge crew searched the plentiful waters for some of the larger marine mammals that call Alaska’s Inside Passage their summer home. Rounding out a week of orca, bears, and wolves, a group of bubble-netting whales were spotted just north of Angoon. The sea lions on a buoy and the guests aboard the ship were a captive audience as the humpback whales breathed, breached, and bubble-netted close by the vessel. The wonder of the whales was the perfect end to a week.

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About the Author

Sarah Friedlander


Growing up with a large backyard, Sarah spent her childhood exploring the woods and bringing home frogs. When asked not to bring frogs into the house, she learned the difference between frogs and toads and was soon asked not to bring toads into the house either. Raised just outside of Washington, DC, she considers herself lucky to have grown up with exposure to a combination of the outdoors and the city, as it helped her pick with certainty which one she wanted to spend all her time in - the outdoors.

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