Bay of Pillars and Chatham Strait

Jul 02, 2019 - National Geographic Venture


We woke up to a beautiful foggy morning in Southeast Alaska as we made our way toward the Bay of Pillars. In true expedition spirit, we began our morning of adventuring. Many brave souls took on the challenge of bushwhacking through unknown territory and discovered evidence of the wildlife in this amazing area, from sea otter skeletons to moose and bear tracks! Meanwhile others took to the water on both kayaks and Zodiacs. Navigating through these new waters at low tide, we had a first-hand view of the diversity found in the intertidal zone. As we pressed on, we floated over the canopy of the kelp forest, an iconic marine ecosystem of this productive area. Cruising through the many islands found in the bay, we encountered harbor seals and sea otters, which play important roles in keeping these coastal ecosystems thriving and healthy.

We picked up the ship’s anchor in the afternoon, once the undersea team had returned to the boat after a dive exploring the life found beneath the surface of the bay. The rest of the day was spent looking for wildlife as we sailed the waters of Chatham Strait. Those of us vigilantly searching from the bow were rewarded with some humpback whale sightings, sea otters, porpoises, and seabirds. Just as we were about to head in for dinner, the stars of the show made an appearance – humpback whales engaging in cooperative feeding! As we watched with cameras and binoculars at the ready, a group of five whales carefully executed their plan of surrounding a school of herring with a bubble-net before simultaneously scooping them up in huge whale mouthfuls. A truly wonderful end to a spectacular day in Alaska’s Inside Passage.

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About the Author

Ana Sofia Guerra

Undersea Specialist

Ana was born in Monterrey, Mexico, very far away from the ocean. Eleven years later, she was living in São Paulo, Brazil and, through a local sea turtle NGO, she discovered a passion for the marine world and got certified as a PADI Junior Open Water Diver at age 12. After completing high school in Mexico City, Ana moved to California to attend Stanford University. Ana obtained a degree in Biology through Stanford University and she actively sought out opportunities to do her work by or in the water. After graduating, Ana was selected as the North American Rolex Scholar of the Our World-Underwater Scholarship Society. This unique diving scholarship allowed Ana to travel across the Americas, the South Pacific and Australia, where she immersed herself in variety of fields, from photography and dive guiding to marine science.

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