Sitkoh Bay and Chatham Strait

May 29, 2019 - National Geographic Quest

The wildlife sightings onboard National Geographic Quest continue to amaze guests, staff, and crew. This morning as we entered a small bay on the southeast corner of Chichagoff Island, we sighted not one, but five different coastal brown bears as well as two Sitka black-tailed deer. Three of these bears were in a group comprised of a mother and two cubs a little over a year old, all busy foraging in the meadows along the bay’s edge. All of this greatness occurring before breakfast!

Once anchored, we went ashore to explore the bay by land and sea. Nine brave souls took to the stand-up paddleboards while others kayaked and the undersea team conducted scuba operations. Those that ventured ashore were treated to a walk down an unpaved road that was originally used to transport logs from the forest to a pier large enough to transport the felled trees to larger ports. One of the most intriguing creatures found on these hikes was a variety of banana slug with an unusual ghostly white complexion. Following our extended hike, we left the road and walked through a meadow at the head of the bay, walking along a salmon stream and sighting a couple more brown bears from afar.

Sitkoh Bay is an area that has had a taste of all major historical developments in Southeast Alaskan over the past two centuries. In 1804, the indigenous population of Sitka fled from the second invasion of Baranoff to this bay, creating a shelter for a thousand people. Into the 1800s and early 1900s, the bay was used for logging operations and a salmon cannery – the ruins of which are still standing as private property.

With the sun shining on National Geographic Quest, we spent the afternoon cruising south through Chatham Strait, watching humpback whales blow, Dall’s porpoise splash, and listening to presentations by National Geographic photographer Flip Nicklin on his search for unicorns, and Dr. Andy Szabo about his work with the Alaska Whale Foundation. Another one for the books.

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About the Author

JIll Niederberger


Jill is an aquatic biologist, naturalist, divemaster, and captain with a love for everything living in and depending on water. Whether sailing catamarans, leading snorkeling tours, or assisting with cetacean field research projects, she enjoys connecting others to the wilderness around them. Her most recent adventures have led her into a focus on marine mammals – those creatures with fur and blubber that defy the odds by living in or depending on an environment in which they cannot breathe.

About the Videographer

David Pickar

Video Chronicler

David Pickar is a native of Portland, Oregon. He studied anthropology at the University of Oregon, then spent several years working as a field archaeologist. Participating in excavations in countries like Jordan, Belize and Italy and in every corner of the US, allowed him to witness culture and the environment from an unusual perspective.

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