When timing is in your favor, magical moments take place. The docile tone from Expedition Leader John Mitchell greeted us with the morning announcement as we found ourselves sitting off Hartley Bay, British Columbia. A logistical fuel stop that was needed this morning for our fleet of Zodiacs set the pace for what turned out to be a perfectly timed wildlife extravaganza on both water and land. You see, the fuel dock station normally opens at 8:00 a.m. Today, they started their morning a little late and didn’t open until 8:30 a.m. Our ship’s boatswain returned to the ship from the fuel stop around 9:30 a.m., and the deck team immediately raised the Zodiac so we could make our way towards Prince Royal Island in search of wildlife. National Geographic representative Lauren Eckert was in the lounge giving her presentation, “Welcome to the Great Bear Rainforest: The Land of the Spirit Bear & So Much More.” Almost immediately, our team of naturalists on the bow spotted a group of killer whales! The bridge team positioned the ship for a closer look, and it was then that we noticed a lot of splashing and surface activity taking place. A Dall’s porpoise in the mix with killer whales! Were we witnessing an active hunt? As time progressed, there was no sign of the Dall’s porpoise anymore, and the activity of the killer whales quieted. We made our turn towards Prince Royal Channel only to be stopped by humpback whales! We stopped for a bit to curiously watch these beautiful animals as they displayed their flukes just off the bow. The winds started to increase, and the rain became steady as we continued making our way towards Prince Royal Channel. The fuel stop and observations of killer and humpback whales delayed our arrival towards Prince Royal Island and our search for the Kermode “Spirit” Bear. It was as if these “delays” placed before us were to slow us down for what happened next. We continued cruising south along Prince Royal Island. We scanned the shoreline when suddenly an announcement came over the ship’s internal public address speaker: “Good afternoon to those aboard National Geographic Venture. We have spotted a Spirit Bear along the shore.” The persistent rain and winds did not stop the bow from filling up with excited guests, crew, and staff. The bear acknowledged us and went back to eating barnacles, bivalves, and berries along the shoreline and the forest edge. At one point, the bear meandered up a rock face and into the tree line before peeking its head out for a look at us below. We quietly floated for almost an hour as we witnessed this beautiful animal in its environment. What a magical moment for all!
National Geographic Venture
This is Erin and Alison (Grosvenor Teacher Fellows) taking over the daily expedition report one last time before we head home. Today on National Geographic Venture , we cruised an inlet along the coastal shores of British Columbia. The morning was spent on Zodiacs. We explored the islands and took a nice, casual walk along the coastal beach. With informative talks by our naturalist throughout our journey, we were excited to implement our new learning in this ecosystem. On Zodiacs, we stopped by one coast and spotted a nurse tree with a Sitka spruce growing from it. A kingfisher perched on top of the spruce and then flew past us with its unique musical call. A harbor seal popped over to say hi as well. As we hiked the shoreline, we found ourselves stepping over fallen driftwood. Taking a closer look, we discovered turkey tail fungus and slime mold growing on the fallen trees. Barnacles and remnants of bull kelp were scattered along the shore. Continuing to walk along the beach, we observed interesting rock formations. We are enthusiastic about science and nature. During our time aboard National Geographic Venture , we found ourselves more informed, more engaged, and more passionate about this beautiful ecosystem. We loved the discoveries we made while immersed in this space, and we incorporated the information provided by naturalists who shared their passion and work with us. We know that visiting this land is a special gift, and we look forward to sharing our newfound knowledge, experience, and connections with our school communities. Text and photographs by Grosvenor Teacher Fellows, Alison Katzko and Erin Schmidt