Iyoukeen Bay and Peril Strait

Jul 26, 2019 - National Geographic Sea Lion

If we only had one day in Southeast Alaska, today would have been the one. Fortunately we had six days of marvelous experiences here, but today was a wonderful “Grand Finale” to our expedition. Our morning was spent taking in the temperate rainforest of the Tongass National Forest on Chichagof Island at Iyoukeen Bay and exploring the shore waters by kayak and Zodiac, with a full immersion experience by some of our Global Explorers.

We made good use of our remaining time as, navigating toward the entrance to Peril Strait and ultimately to Sitka for our departure, scouring the shoreline and distant waters ahead for wildlife. Our efforts did not disappoint! We managed to spot a lone humpback whale feeding actively on the dense schools of herring. This 40-ton giant was taking shallow dives, blowing an ensnaring ring of bubbles below the surface to confuse and condense the herring and then thrusting its massive bulk in the middle of the ring. With its massive mouth and rostrum breaking the surface, lower mandible opened wide and ventral pouch expanded, this goliath of the deep gorged itself on the tiny but abundant little herring. Later as we entered the strait we were fortunate enough to get extensive views of separate sets of coastal brown bears with their cubs scouring the tidal zone for marine invertebrates. The female bruins will spend nearly two and a half years tending to their young, teaching them as much as one can about the ways of life and survival in the temperate rainforests of Southeast Alaska.

In the evening we all gathered in the lounge for our farewell cocktail reception and recap. A few words from Captain David Sinclair would be followed by an award ceremony led by naturalist Steve Zeff for our Global Explorers and an amazing musical composition from Steve titled “Southeast Alaska from A to Z”, which appropriately concluded and with a standing ovation.

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About the Author

Doug Gualtieri


Doug’s passion for the natural world started at an early age in his home state of Michigan. He received two biology degrees from Central Michigan University, and later went on to get a master’s degree in conservation biology. His education led him to study a diverse range of natural sciences, with an emphasis on ecology, animal behavior, and migratory birds. Shortly after leaving the academic world, Doug migrated north to Alaska with his trusty Siberian husky, Koda. He began working as a naturalist in Denali National Park in 1999. For over seven years he has shared his love of Alaska and Denali’s six million acres with Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic guests, as trip leader for the Denali Land Extension based at the North Face Lodge deep within the park.

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