It was the first morning of adventure on board National Geographic Sea Lion and our guests were already on the bow at 5:00 a.m. when the anchor came up. We sailed away from our night anchorage at Beehive Island and headed north through Sergius Narrows, toward our hiking destination at Ushk Bay. As the name suggests, it is quite the narrow path and requires accurate timing to make it through during the slack tide. Along the way we caught our first glimpses of charismatic wildlife in the form of Sitka black-tailed deer and sea otters. After breakfast our guests met our expedition staff and received their safety briefings. However, the briefings were interrupted when humpback whales were spotted on both sides of the bow. For over an hour we watched two groups of whales approach one another, fin- and fluke-slapping the whole way until they eventually joined forces to forage.
After a lovely surprise visit from the whales and a delicious lunch, the guests of National Geographic Sea Lion boarded Zodiac boats for transportation to their various hikes. The forest at Ushk Bay shows great examples of both old-growth forest and the perils of logging. Salmon streams run near muskegs and the opportunities for hands-on learning are incredibly plentiful. While following along the bear trails during our hike, guests encountered scat and perfectly preserved footprints from coastal brown bears.
At cocktail hour, many laughs and stories were shared as we all compared stories from our adventures. The natural history staff shared relevant information from the day in our first recap of the trip. After dinner, many returned to the bow to search for wildlife as we continued to our next destination.