Our continuing saga on a small ship in a large state…
It is still day 4 of our adventure and we have now moved all the way to the Northern end of the Seymour Canal, not far from where we were on Day 1. We are going to visit Park Creek, a bear sanctuary, not to rehabilitate them, but just an area that provides safety for them. The rangers have interacted with the local bear population for many years, and quite a few bears have their own name; the bears are left alone as much as possible, but are used to human presence and do not see it as a threat. We took the dinghy to go ashore and just as we were talking to one of the rangers, this is what we saw coming towards us. That is when I remembered I forgot my bells!
Mama Bear with two cubs, slowly coming along the shore to where we were. The rangers did not panic, so I figured we were safe. They kept on coming very close to us, but then followed the shore to our right, without taking a second look at us. We will encounter her again.
The cubs just followed Mommy.
Our valiant vessel parked in the sound waiting for us. She is such a beauty, I have to show more pictures.
After a very short walk, we came to a river where the salmon are running. Mama bear is now fishing for herself after she provided fish for her two cubs.
She jumped on a salmon and immediately started to eat.
You cannot get fresher than this.
There was a younger adult bear in the grass waiting for her chance to do the same
A bald eagle stood in a nearby tree waiting for scraps – Kristin told us to look for a golf ball in the trees and that is exactly how you spot them. You then need a very good telephoto to see them this close.
Another bald eagle came down for scraps. There was also a wading bird with long yellow legs which appears to be a Greater Yellowlegs.
After watching the bears for quite a long time, we went for a short walk and actually saw a red breasted woodpecker. I was lucky enough to be able to get one decent shot before it flew away. You can see that it is hard at work as the body is focused but the head is moving so fast that it is blurry.
Some salmon do make it past the bears – we are here up-river from where we were before and you can guess (more than see) at salmons swimming in the shallows. It is actually easier to see them when they are moving, but sorry – I do photography.
Nice nature scene – it was a very pleasant walk in the woods to end the day.
Day 5 and we were back at looking for whales. We had seen enough single whales the past few days, so now, we needed two at the same time, if possible, two diving whales in sync.
The idea is to get several shots of two tails going at the same time, like this… We got pretty good at telling when the whales were getting ready for a dive as they took a deeper breath and came up a little higher above water.
We ran into a very large group of whales. I think at one time we counted up to 15 whales. These groups are informal, with whales joining and leaving as they please or see fit based on the food that is available.
Three shots is the most I got – and the last one is usually just a big splash. Actually it is the splash that gives us the first indication of a breaching whale. They seem to do this several times in a row so once you see a splash, you need to be ready for the next one.
This, I was told, is whale dung – very bright and pink.
This, on the other hand, is a Lion Mane Jellyfish – it was huge, about 1.5 foot diameter.
This whale is actually slapping its pectoral fin. Yes, that huge thing sticking out of the water is only the fin of the wale.
What could be better than spectacular scenery with the tail of a diving whale.
More groups of wales – you can count the number of spouts in this shot.
I am going to propose this photo as a publicity shot for the company who owns that boat! I think it would look really good as the cover of their catalog. Paul told me this is the Alaskan Story – it is actually a private charter boat that does very similar trips to Catalyst.
There was obviously a lot to see…
Later on, we visited a colony of single sealions. This photo is actually very deceptive. It is amazing what Photoshop can do.
This is the original shot. When we first arrived, we were in thick fog, but Photoshop can clean that up rather well.
The fog lifted and we saw better what was going on on this island.
After we stopped for the night, we went for another kayak paddle. We went a little further and in a channel between two islands, we had to get out of the way of passing whales. They were no more than 500 meters away from us, swimming gently by.
We also went for another walk in a very nice lush forest.
Nothing better to open the appetite for another nice dinner.
Speaking of dinner … As we were walking, the crew had prepared a surprise for us. When we returned to the beach, there was a pic-nic waiting for us.
Paul and Jimmy played music while Michael, in the background, was preparing one of his excellent meals.
Jimmy has been learning to play the concertina and we had pushed him for a concert. It takes concentration, as you can see. His Irish roots coming back.
Seals were regularly swimming by in front of us. They are very curious (or nosy) animals and several stopped to take a better look at the new neighbors.
Michael at work.
Paul played the banjo as well as the guitar.
Is there a better way to end the day than a spectacular sunset on a beach in a beautiful setting with good friends and good food?
And this concludes another episode of our trip in Alaska.
See you soon with the last of the photos from this wonderful adventure.