Patterson Bay & Chatham Strait

Jun 13, 2019 - National Geographic Venture


Last night a mom asked her six-and-a-half-year-old child, Ruby, what she’d like to have for the next day, and Ruby answered “a very pretty day!” Today certainly started very beautifully, with smooth seas, a clear blue sky, and a great view of the magnificent snow-covered peaks of Baranof Island. After having had a couple of “Alaskan sunshine” days, many of us gathered on the ship’s deck long before breakfast to enjoy today’s weather and admire the scenery. 

National Geographic Venture anchored in Patterson Bay, a long and narrow picturesque inlet located on the southeastern portion of Baranof Island. We were all very excited to explore the area on Zodiacs. The sheer steep mountainside, grassy meadows, and cozy little creeks captured everyone’s hearts. We watched curious harbor seals sticking their heads out of the water to observe us, as well as a solitary humpback whale that regaled us with great views of her fluke. Expedition diver/naturalist Shawn Lucas and I went scuba diving and may have possibly become the first divers in Patterson Bay! We brought back underwater video of the thriving kelp forest and its inhabitants, like the morning sun star, the sunflower star, and the kelp greenling for everyone to enjoy onboard.

During the afternoon, we crossed Chatham Strait and headed towards Kuiu Island, where we were going to do some hiking. However, we found a large number of humpback whales just off Kuiu doing all sorts of interesting behavior, including breaching and tail lobbing. We then found a tight group of nine humpback whales engaged in cooperative bubble-net feeding—the holy grail of whale watching! Such a great opportunity couldn’t be passed up, so we embraced the spirit of a true expedition and changed plans to spend the rest of the evening watching some of the most intriguing animal behavior on earth. I think that Ruby, and everyone else, got their wish after all!

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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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