Squeezed between Kupreanof Island and the southern part of Baranof Island is a small, perforated island called Kuiu. Its elongated shape is a collection of islets, rocky bays and endless peninsulas, whose northern part sits at the junction of Frederick Sound and Chatham Strait. On the very northern tip of the island are two beautiful bays, Saginaw to the east and Security to the west. It was the aptly named latter one we found ourselves cruising into early this morning. It was easy to imagine how this one got its name, as it is so well protected to give shelter to mariners seeking protection from the cold northern winds that howl down Chatham Strait, or the prevailing southerlies that pour in from the Gulf of Alaska. However, the real reason for its name has more to do with a battle that occurred here between Kake Indians and early explorers. But that’s another story.
Our activities here today included a variety of hikes and Zodiac tours, during which we spotted several sea otters, a variety of bird species, and three black bears. Kuiu Island only has black bears, no browns, so it was easy to know which species we were looking at. Bushwhacking hikers returned happy and muddy, while the photo walkers learned a few more tricks of making good pictures from Virtual Storyteller and Naturalist Rich Reid.
The afternoon was spent cruising nearby Chatham Strait, in a successful search for humpback whales. A brief stop at Kasnyku Bay for a group photo at the beautiful Hidden Falls was a welcome detour, then it was back to watching for whales and cruising for the remainder of the day. Post-dinner activities included a lecture by undersea naturalist and expedition diver Gail Ashton on the super powers of invertebrates.