ALASKA: LEG 4 – LANDLOCKED BAY TO SHEEP BAY | NW Explorations
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ALASKA: LEG 4 – LANDLOCKED BAY TO SHEEP BAY

July 11th, 2016

B.O.B.!
When you go on safari in Africa, the goal is to see the Big Five game animals.  If there was an equivalent here in Prince William Sound, the list would surely include black and brown bears.  We started today with a respectable 37 bird species and 8 mammals, but so far no bear.  We were on a bear quest!

Fans of The Deadliest Catch TV show were thrilled when the Northwestern sailed by our route, one of the most successful crabbers on the show.  Then we got a close flyby of a Coast Guard helicopter as we cruised, and the pilot called on the VHF radio.  He had never seen anything like the Mother Goose formation in Prince William Sound and was curious about the flotilla.  Both he and we were headed to Cordova, albeit at astonishingly different speeds, so we invited him to come down to the docks to visit when we finally caught up to him.Then it happened.  Anamcara radioed in that they had a B.O.B., a bear on the beach!  We had been scanning the shore for hundreds of miles and were rewarded with a nice male black bear foraging among the grasses and boulders on shore.  Our good feelings from the sighting washed us into Sheep Bay, where the huge anchorage was all ours.  One bear down!At the head of Sheep Bay is a long tidal lagoon, fed by a narrow, shallow passage.  This night it was swirling with schools of mature chum salmon heading upstream to spawn.  A fleet of dinghies set out to explore the lagoon, but the high tide was a bit lower than ideal.  Treacherous rocks barred the way for a couple of boats, but Deception’s dinghy and Hele Mai’s made it through.  The inside waters were chock-a-block full of life.  Sea otters, seals, and eagles were everywhere.  Belted kingfishers rattled their call, and a mom common merganser ran across the surface with her eight chicks.  At the very head of the bay, in the tall grass along the stream, four giant brown bears stood up to take a look at us!  Our bear tally was complete.  We could head home knowing we had seen them all.

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