Chatham Strait and Sitkoh Bay

Aug 07, 2019 - National Geographic Venture


After having sailed throughout the night from Petersburg, National Geographic Venture started a new day in Chatham Strait. Considered the longest fjord in Alaska and possibly in the world, Chatham Strait divides Admiralty Island from Baranof and Chichagof islands, the famous ABC islands of Southeast Alaska. It is very deep, and its waters highly productive and rich in marine life. We soon found proof of that because numerous humpback whales were discovered way before breakfast! Some were diving and showing their flukes high in the air, while a few were more active and slapped the waters with their fifteen feet long pectoral fins. Other breached out of the water and made everyone gasp in awe, except the photographers, whose cameras quickly clicked away.

While everyone on board enjoyed the great show of humpback whales, Emily Newton and I went SCUBA diving at the entrance of Warm Spring Bay, on the eastern side of Baranof Island. We had a great dive and managed to bring back underwater video of numerous interesting marine creatures, including both short and giant plumose anemones, assorted sea stars and my favorite, a basket star.

Warm Spring Bay is where the headquarters of the Alaska Whale Foundation is located and its director, Dr. Andy Szabo came on board to give us a very interesting talk about the fascinating humpback whale. The very same creatures that he was talking about abruptly interrupted his lecture as they started doing a spectacular display known as cooperative bubble-net feeding. We rushed outside to watch as several whales engaged in corralling schools of herring, using a net of bubbles, while Dr. Szabo continued his talk on deck. How lucky we were to be able to see such unique behavior and learn about it from one of the world’s authorities!

During the afternoon, we landed in Sitkoh Bay on Chichagof Island and enjoyed hiking, kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding, making for the perfect ending of another beautiful 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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