On our final day aboard National Geographic Sea Bird, we made our way to Pavlof Harbor, home to a salmon stream that is often frequented by coastal brown bears. After a quick walk to the stream and waterfall, we crouched in the grass to get a close look at the bears around us. We watched two subadults fishing and tussling around in what looked like adolescent play. A few minutes later, a mother with two young cubs came by as well. This harbor is teeming with life, from bears feasting on salmon, harbor seals at the mouth of the river, sea stars exposed by the low tide, and the lush rainforest above. While the salmon will spawn and then pass on, their remains will provide nutrients to sustain all the wildlife we have encountered.
After viewing the bears, some of us made our way through the edge of the coastal temperate rainforest to get a closer look at the understory and towering evergreens. Others went on a Zodiac cruise outside of the bay to find bubble-net feeding humpbacks. This cooperative group feeding behavior is a rare sight to see, let alone from the low perspective in the Zodiac. The whale sightings continued as we watched a group of killer whales spread out and cruise the Chatham Strait later that afternoon. While we prepared for our evening recap, we once again found a group of bubble-net feeding humpback whales. We viewed them from the bow this time.
Alaska is wild open space. It is peace, it is majestic, and it is grace. As we conclude our week and reflect on the landscape and wildlife encountered, I feel an overwhelming sense of joy and gratitude. I am thankful to share these moments with the guests and staff aboard this week, hoping the connections we make with nature and each other will inspire us moving forward. Until next time in Southeast Alaska!