2021 Alaska Flotilla – Day 5 Leg 5 | NW Explorations
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2021 Alaska Flotilla – Day 5 Leg 5

Explorer Basin to Saginaw Bay

Misty low clouds and a soft, quiet stillness in Explorer Basin was interrupted only by the occasional wood hinge voice of an eagle overlooking our boats from its perch.  Blows from a humpback lazily feeding inside the Basin attracted our attention as it surfaced and gently submerged. Now and again, it would make a slow lunge, turn on its side and dip under the surface with only one pectoral fin and half of the tail fluke visible above the surface.

Todd and Judy checked their prawn trap only to find an unexpected guest, a smallish specimen of the giant Pacific octopus!  Although very tasty, Judy and Todd decided to release it and Todd assisted it as it climbed onto the swim step and squeezed thru the cracks back to its home in the murky depths.    Adorable sea otters, with their breakfasts on their bellies, bid us farewell as we headed back out in Chatham Strait to try our luck at whale watching.  It wasn’t long before we spotted familiar congregations of whale blows; indication that we might have the opportunity to observe humpbacks bubble-net feeding!

About 15 or 20 whales were gathering at the surface. As if on command, all the flukes were raised as they dived down into the depths. After about 5 minutes, all of them surfaced with their mouths agape! Their pleated throats swollen with hundreds of gallons of water and fish. They closed their mouths, tightened their throats to expel the water and slowly dipped below the surface. Flocks of gulls filled the air above them and noisily dove in to retrieve the extra stunned fish, easy pickings for a hearty breakfast!

Two separate groups of bubble-net feeding whales kept us entertained for an hour and a half. Intermissions between shows included a group of sealions swimming together and sea otters floating on their backs, one otter was captured on camera eating a red-orange octopus! We decided to get underway and continue up along the shoreline to Saginaw Bay.

We entered Saginaw Bay along the cliff walls of Halleck Harbor to allow us to admire the shore caves at the base of the limestone cliffs. There is a beautiful ancient rust colored pictograph of a sun high on the limestone wall and the cliffs are adorned with Indian paint brush, blue bells and other wildflowers and long trailing kinnikinnick. Pigeon guillemots nest in the cracks and bob on the water nearby.

Bonum Vitae and Exact decided to anchor in Halleck Harbor while the rest of the fleet rafted inside the head of Saginaw Bay. Bob and Jane went out for a kayak in one direction while Chris and Bob kayaked in another. Eldean crew took a dingy ride and spotted a black bear in the beach. The wind picked up a bit in the evening, but with the raft secured to the beach and little fetch, we were in a comfortable spot for the evening.

 

P.S. Is Alaska on your bucket list? We can take you there! Reserve your spot on our 2022 Mother Goose AK Flotilla today. 

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