Today was an amazing day of adventure in Southeast Alaska. We started out exploring Port Althorp by foot, kayak, and stand-up paddleboard. Port Althorp is located near the outer coast of Chichagof Island, one of the “ABC” islands, which share the characteristic of being home to very healthy populations of coastal brown bears. We walked through a meadow, finding a plethora of tracks in the mud, and we took plaster of Paris casts of some bear and deer tracks to share on board.
We headed toward an amazing salmon-spawning stream, where pink and chum salmon had aggregated in large numbers. As we walked close to the edge of the water, we could see signs of bear activity everywhere. We found pieces of salmon scattered around the shore and the meadow. Although we did not see any bears, it was very likely that more than one bear saw us.
The afternoon was spent at the Inian Islands, one of the most spectacular places for wildlife in Southeast Alaska. We embarked our inflatable boats and ventured into the northernmost entrance that connects the Inside Passage with the open Gulf of Alaska. This place is special—it is home to a number of wild creatures.
Our first wildlife encounter was with a group of sea otters. We could see them at close proximity, and we learned about their successful story of population recovery, after almost being wiped out by Russian fur traders. We continued exploring and saw hundreds of Steller sea lions, the largest in the world.We took a detour away from shore to look for interesting seabirds, and our search paid off. We saw a small flock of about 12 horned puffins. This was a highlight for many of us, since the puffin is one of the most iconic birds in the magnificent state of Alaska.