Our morning was filled with wildlife viewing from the bow of National Geographic Quest. Early on, we saw our first Pacific loons and rhinoceros auklets. A distant flurry of bird activity turned out to be five bald eagles, more Pacific loons, and many Bonaparte’s gulls all feeding together. We figured it might be a bait ball of fish. Moments later, we discovered a pod of killer whales nearby and realized the birds might have been feeding on the leftovers of a killer whale breakfast. We could not confirm, as we turned the ship to spend the rest of our time with the orcas. In the afternoon, we traveled to Alert Bay, where we disembarked the ship. We had a very special cultural experience on Cormorant Island with a welcoming ceremony by the Kwakwaka’wakw, one of the Indigenous peoples of the coast of the Pacific Northwest. We enjoyed a tour of the U’mista Cultural Centre. It was another beautiful and fun day here in British Columbia!
National Geographic Quest
Lake Eva and Peril Strait
After a morning that threatened rain, the clouds lifted just enough to see the top of the hills that surround Hanus Bay and the river that flows from Lake Eva. We landed on the beach as the tide rose, stepping gingerly over large fields of blue mussels and razor clams before finding the U.S. Forest Service trail that leads to the lake. Later in the summer, these waters are filled with returning pink, coho, and sockeye salmon, which feed not only the brown bears of Chichagof Island, but the forest as well. More than 70% of the nitrogen these trees need comes from the returning salmon as they are dragged through the woods by hungry bears, eagles, ravens, and scavengers. All too quickly, it was time to lift the anchor, and National Geographic Quest wound its way towards Peril Strait, Sitka, and the end of our two-week long adventure. A final beautiful evening on deck served as a perfect capstone to an unforgettable journey that began in the urban cities of Washington and British Columbia and has concluded amongst some of the wildest places left on Earth.