Today we woke up to a grey on grey day with shades of dark green here aboard National Geographic Sea Bird. We were actually woken up by the captain at 6:00 a.m. because we were surrounded by bubble-net feeding humpback whales. This amazing process is just stunning and left us with a feeling of excitement for the activities still to come.
After breakfast and our safety briefings, I gave a smart phone presentation and provided some tips and tricks to get everyone set up for the rest of the voyage. We were called back up to the bow as there was another group of around fifteen humpback whales very close to the ship. Upon anchoring at Pavlov, we could already see two brown bears along the coastline, which only got us more excited for what was in store.
After lunch, we hopped into our Zodiacs and headed into the mouth of the river. We were able to watch these brown bears in their natural habitat. There was a mother and two cubs, and we watched them feast on salmon and walk around the river. This was such an incredible experience. After they walked into the forest, we headed out towards the mouth of the bay in Zodiacs, where we were treated to breaching humpback whales who were bubble-net feeding.
Just when we thought it couldn’t get any better, we were called up to the bow for one last view of these bubble-net feeding whales. At the end of their feeding, six whales simultaneously breached, and we celebrated as much as the whales. The natural history team was sounding the call of excitement for all, and the feeling was electric. We then had an incredible dinner and came into the lounge for dessert, and naturalist Frankie Wilton and I talked about “The Story of Southeast Alaska.” Frankie gave everyone a look at the basics of the ecology of the Tongass National Forest, and I showed everyone how to capture this beautiful landscape using composition. This was a truly amazing first day here in Southeast Alaska, and we cannot wait for the days ahead.