We started the day with a black bear sighting on Prince of Wales Island, where we anchored for our hikes on Grindall island. The first operation of the day was a vigorous bushwhacking hike in the mud. I however did a much more civilized leisurely walk in the woods and intertidal exploration searching for sea creatures. After the hikes we did a Zodiac circumnavigation of the island and found a small haul out of boisterous and stinky young male Steller sea lions. It was a bachelor pad with only the sea lions that are too young to claim a spot on the mating beaches. After lunch we cruised for a while looking for other wildlife on our way to Hump Island Oyster Company and we found two humpbacks bubble-net feeding. Bubble-net feeding is a type of cooperative feeding strategy the uses tools (bubbles). This is rare in the animal world and is not often seen outside of Southeast Alaska. At Hump Island we tasted some delicious oysters with kelp salsa and learned a lot about the challenges of oyster farming.
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.