It is day six of our trip, the final full morning of operations before we sail to Sitka. We have missed seeing good views of brown bears. Our expedition leader has a plan that ends up giving us views of bears beyond what we hoped for. Breakfast is early before we hustle to shuttle guests to shore. A ten-minute hike around the point and up the small salmon river is the setting for a fabulous show. There are five brown bears! We observe a pair of subadults and a sow with cubs. At one point, the more aggressive of the cubs starts an unearthly growling noise and tries to nurse on his mum. She is hungry and focused on fishing, and she gives a much louder and more aggressive growl in response, as if to say, “Dinner is ready when I say it is!” The youngster gets the message, and the family moves on. This opportunity to watch such wildlife in silence is a gem within the trip. We witness two successful catches of silver salmon and must refrain from cheering for the bear’s reward. There is much to contemplate as we sail through stormy weather back to port.
National Geographic Quest
National Geographic Quest arose amidst light clouds within the protected waters of Ushk Bay. This area is known for a salmon stream and yields plenty of opportunity for kayaking and exploring the vast meadows of its inner waterways. On this day’s occasion, guests were able to hike and paddle their way along the coast of Ushk Bay and witness firsthand the life cycle of Pacific salmon making their way upstream. As we transited through Peril Strait, we were lucky to see humpback whales. These immense mammals were “lunge feeding” very near our ship. Being able to witness this event was unique for guests and staff. Lunge feeding is process through which individual whales push their gaping mouths through the surface and collect any fish or planktonic invertebrates in the process. Witnessing this behavior was truly a remarkable experience for all. We will cherish this moment for a lifetime.