Pavlof Harbor, Chichagof Island

May 30, 2019 - National Geographic Venture


After having sailed south alongside the northeastern portion of Chichagof Island during the night, we arrived at Pavlof Harbor shortly before breakfast. National Geographic Venture anchored at the mouth of the protected bay with a gorgeous background of coastal meadows and temperate rainforest, all under another beautiful sunny day. A freshwater stream coming from a small lake inland discharges its waters into Pavlof Harbor and will be teaming with fish in a couple of months, a time when salmon make their way upriver to spawn.

The whole area is perfect habitat for bears. Being on Chichagof Island, a well-known fixture of southeast Alaska, this is the territory of brown bears. With that in mind, we all went ashore to explore and enjoy once again the beauty of the rainforest.

Pavlof checks all boxes. Those interests in learning about the ecology of the temperate rainforest had a gorgeous and unending length of forest to explore, while those in pursuit of the perfect shot found numerous subjects to capture on camera, while those looking for a peaceful moment to be meditate and be one with nature were able to do so.

Sometime during the morning, a large brown bear decided to leave the shade of the forest and walked into the meadows to forage on grass. Many of us had the incredible opportunity to enjoy wonderful upfront views of Alaska’s most iconic creature!

In addition, Shawn Lucas and I decided to explore a different aspect of Pavlof Harbor and went scuba diving. The plan was to document the marine life and bring back underwater footage for everyone to watch during our recap. Footage included the incredibly abundant giant plumose anemones that completely cover some portions of the area. Other animals like mating horse crabs, predatory sunflower sea stars, and curious red Irish lord sculpins also made their way onto the screen.

However, the uncontested highlight of the dive was a giant Pacific octopus that cautiously watched us from the safety of its cave. What a wonderful diversity of marine life!

During the afternoon, we sailed South on Chatham Strait and enjoyed watching Dall’s porpoises, humpback whales and even a northern elephant seal before receiving the visit of Dr. Andy Szabo who regaled us with a talk about his work with the Alaska Whale Foundation, thus ending another remarkable day in Southeast Alaska.

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About the Author

Carlos Navarro

Undersea Specialist

Carlos J. Navarro is a biochemist specializing in marine biology, a M. Sc. in Environmental Management and a freelance wildlife photographer/author. Carlos has spent most of the last 30 years living along the shores of the Sea of Cortez and participating in numerous scientific, conservation and environmental education projects on the vaquita, marine invertebrates, sea birds, great white sharks, baleen whales, jaguars and crocodiles. Carlos’ six years of jaguar research provided the basis of ONCA MAYA, a non-profit organization dedicated to jaguar conservation based in Cancun, of which he is a founding member and still serves as a scientific advisor. He loves being underwater, either free-diving or using SCUBA gear and have had the chance to explore the underwater realms of Alaska, Mexico, Svalbard, the trans-Atlantic ridge islands, the Caribbean and both coasts of South America from Panama to Chile and Brazil to Argentina. 

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