Alaska’s Geographic Harbor

Jul 18, 2019 - National Geographic Orion


After a night of gentle rocking as we sailed through the Shelikof Strait, we awoke to a perfectly calm morning and found National Geographic Orion anchored in Geographic Harbor on the Katmai coast. Katmai National Park is a massive park, on the southern coast of mainland Alaska that is home to the well-known Brooks Falls. We were set to explore the lesser traveled and rugged coast of this beautiful park while looking out for our favorite bruins, the brown bear. The many small bays along this coastline are usually filled with brown bears that come down from the hills to feed on the sedges in the flats and salmon in the streams.

Zodiacs set off for two rounds of cruises among the myriad of small islands that make up this magnificent harbor. We quickly found brown bears in the water, poking among the rocks, and perusing the shoreline in search of food. The tide was out, the table was set, and bears were there to feast on the tidal bounty. We found many females and their cubs exploring the tidal zone while other bears were moving along the shoreline.

During lunch Brent announced that because the conditions were so nice, we would offer kayaking as an option for the afternoon. With bellies full, we headed to the main lounge to hear Andy describe our disembarkation options, and then James gave a quick briefing for the intrepid kayakers.

The afternoon cruises set off in search of sea otters, and the kayakers made their way to a remote platform to board their boats and explore the coastline. With the sun high overhead, it was an afternoon to remember for all. Bears were swimming in the water, otters lounged near the shore, and the kayakers explored every nook and cranny of the coast. When everyone returned to the ship, Brent announced that we would offer a Polar Plunge to celebrate!! There were only a handful of crazy hardy swimmers, but they seemed to enjoy the refreshing waters of Geographic Harbor.

After another captivating recap, we all shared stories from the day over another wonderful meal. It was another fantastic day that was enjoyed by all.

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About the Author

Colin McNulty

Undersea Specialist

Colin grew up scuba diving with his family, and fell in love with the ocean at an early age.  He has been fortunate to dive in many exotic corners of the world, and to work on a number of undersea research projects studying whale sharks and several deep water fish species.  After graduating from the University of Vermont, he began working in various capacities aboard expedition ships.  During his travels he photographed and shared his adventures as a way of making remote areas and cultures more accessible.  It was in Santa Barbara, California that he learned how to photograph underwater, and combined two of his great passions, photography and the sea.  Exploring and documenting the vast richness, diversity, and beauty of the underwater world continues to be a lifelong endeavor.

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