Cruising Chatham Strait & Pavlof Harbor

Dexter Sear, Video Chronicler

  • Daily Expedition Reports
  • 26 Aug 2021

Cruising Chatham Strait & Pavlof Harbor, 8/26/2021, National Geographic Venture

  • Aboard the National Geographic Venture
  • Alaska

Every day in Southeast Alaska is a special day, but some hit a home run! Today we knocked it right out of the park, with weather and wildlife!

It started early, as we cruised down the east side of Chichagof Island, heading to our destination for the morning’s landing, Pavlof Harbor. It is a special place with a very active salmon steam, beautiful scenery, and the real possibility of encountering bears feeding on the bounty of fish that are heading upstream to spawn. We were not disappointed. As we approached our anchorage, we saw three bears walking along the shore on their way to the salmon stream. This was a female coastal brown bear with a pair of two-year-old cubs, going for their morning breakfast.

Once we landed, it is a short walk over to the stream, with hopes of seeing these awesome bruins. Again, we were not disappointed. The three bears had stayed around, actively catching salmon right in front of us, to everyone’s amazement. They stayed on the stream and put on a terrific show until they were full and decided to move on.

After lunch we left our anchorage at Pavlof and headed out to look for more wildlife, particularly humpback whales. Amazingly enough, the weather got even better. Some sun and little wind, perfect conditions to spot our quarry. It was only a matter of minutes until a group of whales were spotted feeding in a very specialized fashion called bubble-netting. Multiple animals worked together to surround herring in a net of bubbles released by one whale, while the others scare the fish into a tighter ball with loud calls or by flashing the light side of their pectoral fins at the potential prey. What an amazingly orchestrated way to hunt.

Eventually, we needed to bid the whales goodbye and head toward our next morning’s destination. But what an amazing day in the amazing place we call Southeast Alaska!

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