May 12, 2019 - National Geographic Venture

Many aboard National Geographic Venture this morning woke early to scan the shore of Princess Royal Island for existing signs of the elusive spirit bear. This is a rare colored variant of the black bear with a recessive genetic trait that endows the species with a coat of lustrous white fur.

Alas, we never saw the spirit bear, but we did have a remarkable time exploring this area. We anchored just off Butedale on the island, which was a thriving fishing camp in the early 1900s. The property’s new owner has big plans to turn Butedale into an eco-resort. At present, the site is under construction.

Most opted for an adventurous hike through the forest, up a steep trail, to Butedale Lake. The trail gave us an opportunity to learn about the flora community common to a coastal rainforest. Once at the lake we had beautiful views, resting in the bright sunshine, and took in the pristine air.

We said goodbye to Butedale and resumed our northward voyage. At cocktail hour, we all gathered on the bow and raised a toast to say farewell to Canada. Tomorrow morning we will wake up in Alaska.

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About the Author

Ivan Phillipsen


Ivan is a passionate naturalist with a background in scientific research. He has participated in studies of a diverse assortment of organisms: aspen trees, cactus wrens, aquatic snails, frogs, and beetles. He holds a M.S. in biology from Cal State San Bernardino and a Ph.D. in zoology from Oregon State University. The population genetics of freshwater animals was his area of focus. He has published a series of papers on the evolutionary biology of amphibians and aquatic insects. Ivan’s scientific work invariably involved backpacking into remote wilderness areas to find his secretive research subjects in their natural habitats.

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