We awoke early today to scan for whales in Chatham Strait. We kept our eyes on the horizon, looking for the characteristic blows of humpback whales. We saw several individual whales before breakfast and then were treated to the incredible wonder of cooperative bubble-net feeding right after breakfast. This was soon followed by a double rainbow on the horizon. What a way to start the day! Throughout the morning and early afternoon, we cruised through the northern end of Chatham Strait and then west into Icy Strait, anchoring after lunch in a protected cove off the Inian Islands. This area is one of our favorites to explore by Zodiac. The waters are lively as the Pacific Ocean meets these islands in Cross Sound. Upwelling and mixing currents make for a great place to experience wildlife like Steller sea lions and sea otters, both of which we saw in great numbers today.
National Geographic Sea Bird
Calm waters and sunny tides welcomed National Geographic Sea Bird to Alert Bay. Eager to stretch our legs, we walked through the sleepy port town to the U’Mista Cultural Center for our interpretive tour of the impressive museum. Alert Bay is part of the traditional homelands of the Kwakwaka’wakw, which were once divided into seventeen different tribes throughout the region. During 1885-1951, potlatch was banned in Canada. Despite the outlaw, one was held in 1921, which resulted in a police raid and the aftermath of many participants facing fines or jail time. Additionally, over 600 regalia pieces were confiscated and distributed around the world. After the ban was lifted, the Kwakwaka’wakw people fought to bring their sacred items home, resulting in the U’Mista Cultural Center. Visiting the impressive collection and learning about this complex history was truly an eye-opening and unique privilege.