In the morning we divided up to explore Grindall Island. The long hikers went up to a beautiful lake and “bushwhacked” well beyond it. The photo hikers barely made it past the beach. The intertidal zone was spectacularly diverse and made for fantastic tide-pooling. We then circumnavigated the island on Zodiacs where we saw bald eagles, an abundance of ochre stars, sea urchins, and lots and lots of sea lions. After lunch we went on a tour and tasting of Hump Island Oyster Farm. We learned about the process and challenges of running an oyster farm and sampled the products. The Global Explorers learned how to use the ROV, or Remotely Operated Vehicle, under the docks of the oyster farm.
National Geographic Quest
Many of our guests book their trip for one reason – they want to see a brown bear roaming free in wild Alaska. This morning, they got their wish! We dropped anchor in Pavlov Harbor located on the northeast coast of Chichagof Island. The area hosts a productive salmon stream, and the bears were there to feed! We staggered our guests to keep the groups to a manageable size and headed for the landing. Bears were seen even before we landed, and as we approached the stream we saw two large sub-adult female brown bears near the water. Closer to the small cascading waterfall, a mother bear was teaching her two cubs to fish while gorging herself on the abundant salmon. One more sat close to the waterfall, seemingly satiated on the feast provided by the returning salmon. Our first group returned to the ship, and we kept our fingers crossed that the bears would remain. We were not disappointed! In fact, the second viewing was possibly even more exciting. A total of eight bears were seen, and while we watched the waterfall action, the mother and her two cubs emerged behind us on the trail we intended to use! Our plans quickly changed; we loaded our Zodiacs and made our retreat, allowing the bears full access to the beach and their salmon breakfast. Before we pulled anchor and left Pavlov Harbor we had one more “real” Alaskan experience, the polar plunge! Seventeen brave souls lined up along the beach and charged into the chilly water. All survived and headed back to the ship for a hot shower and lunch.