What a whale of a day! As we traveled south through Stevens Passage, we encountered a large group of humpback whales. From a distance, it looked as though fountains were shooting off all the way across the channel just from their blows. We veered off our course in order to get a closer look. There were at least 20 humpback whales foraging and feeding together! Most were spread out across the channel, but a couple of smaller groups seemed to be working together to feed. The whales would dive and surface in sync with one another and in tight formations.
We slowed down and watched from a distance as the whales went about their day. After a while, a few of the whales broke off from the group and surfaced right in between our boats! We put the boats in neutral and settled down to watch the show. It was a beautiful experience seeing first so many humpbacks together and then getting to see them up close. We watched as they broke the glassy surface, sending up a cloud almost 10ft into the air with each exhale. After a couple of breaths, we would see their backs arch and watch as their massive flukes (tails) would extend up out of the water signaling that they were going down for a deep dive.
We arrived at Pybus Bay, on Admiralty Island, in the early afternoon. Most of the boats chose to anchor on their own, but Bonum Vitae and Patos rafted up with Deception. We hadn’t been in the bay for over an hour before Merle and Becky on Victoria had caught a sizeable halibut! A beach walk at low tide revealed extensive tidal flats full of mussels and clams. We found interesting bones and shells as well as bear scat and footprints. Admiralty Island has one of the highest densities of brown bear found anywhere in the world, about one bear per square mile!
Pybus Bay is a very scenic anchorage. Steep forested peaks rise directly from the sea. Everywhere you look is lush and contains seemingly countless shades of green. As we cruised in our dinghies, we were amazed at the clarity of the water. We became accustomed to the silty water found near areas of glacial melt, but here you could see the bottom from far above. Peering down, we saw fish, crabs and even seals swim under us!
After dinner, the Discovery crew spotted a brown bear by the beach we had been exploring. We were able to watch as it fed on vegetation near a stream that fed into the bay. Salmon jumped all around, which was probably why the bear was attracted to the area. It was a quiet, peaceful night in the anchorage. Eagles and ravens called from the trees, and the high layer of cloud allowed us to view mountainous peaks in all directions.