Today we awoke to mist gently rolling over the Kashavarof Islands, our destination for this morning. With the trees peeking through the mist, we were ready to explore by Zodiac and kayak. Whilst the tide was rising, we had enough of the intertidal zone visible, but the real treat was the wildlife with several mink, both river and sea otters, and an eagle with its fresh salmon catch. As we transited to our afternoon destination, we were entertained by Dall’s porpoises coming to investigate the ship and several humpback whales. Then it was off to Bushy Island where we broke into groups to bushwhack, wander in the forest, and explore the tide pools. Some brave folks then chose to jump of the Zodiacs into the cold water as part of the “polar plunge.”
National Geographic Sea Bird
It rained today. It rained all day. It’s Southeast Alaska—it’s supposed to rain. We’ve been spoiled by the last two days of warm sunshine but the return to a more normal temperate rainforest day didn’t hamper our excitement. Today was a day of adventure, today we went somewhere new. Somewhere our expedition leader, Sarah Friedlander, picked out on a map based on topography and what little information she could gather. We explored the Etolin wilderness today, and it did not disappoint. We spent our morning kayaking amongst thousands of moon jellies and then ventured in Zodiacs up a stream teeming with pink salmon. We then continued north to Steamer Bay where we were able to hike along the margins of an active salmon stream, and across meadows filled with evidence of bear activity and into old growth forest. The salmon carcasses were everywhere, having been transported by birds and bears away from the stream. Traffic jams of pink salmon backed up at forks in the rapids, all pushing up the current. The wildlife was as abundant as the rain. We were all soaked through by the end of the day, but it was so very worth it to see Alaska in this way: wild, pristine, untouched. Absolutely the best day of the season.