A peaceful anchorage near the head of Aaltanhash Inlet allowed guests of National Geographic Venture to awaken to a smack of moon jellies (Aurelia aurita) roaming the fjord. After an early morning scan of the shoreline and surrounding water, several humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) were spotted gently feeding around the ship. After breakfast, guests departed in Zodiacs to observe the whales and explore the surrounding area. After an eventful morning, guests returned to the ship for lunch before turning their attention to the terrestrial ecosystems. Naturalists guided excursions throughout the salt marsh and intertidal regions with a small group attempting to penetrate the thick undergrowth in search of an inland lake. Fresh signs of recent bear activity were found throughout the area: bedding locations, fish remains, and a rare glimpse at a perennial bear trail. After returning to the ship, National Geographic Venture departed for a cruise along the shore of Princess Royal Island and a brief search for bears before dropping anchor south of Hartley Bay for the evening.
National Geographic Venture
On this, the final day of our expedition, we awoke to the sound of rain in Lowe Inlet Marine Provincial Park. After several days of attempting to make our way to Lowe, only to get thwarted by whales, killer whales, bears, and other wildlife, we finally arrived today. The rainforest greeted us with the full rain shower service we have come to love and expect, and we greeted the rainforest first thing in the morning with the option to either hike or cruise through this lovely place. Intrepid hikers made their way from the inside of the back bay of Lowe through the home of the Great Bear and into the muskeg typical of this landscape, which used to be covered in glaciers. Those of us who explored by water were treated to a close-up view of Vierney Falls. We also explored the back bay where salmon swam, herons hunted, eagles perched above us, and kingfishers dipped about. Early on, our Zodiacs spotted yet another black bear, who greeted us before wandering back into its forested home. This trip has been so full of bears that we are struggling to keep count. After our cruises, we loaded back onto the vessel and turned due north to our final destination of Prince Rupert, our first stop where we began so many days ago. Our journey here was unexpected in every way. It was so full of life and memories that we will carry with us as long as we tell the story of where, how, and who. Where these animals live, how they need this forest to survive, who the people that live here are, and how they continue to fight for this land after calling it their home for thousands of years.