Seldom Seen Alaska Expedition – July 2023 Trip Journal
Day 7: A Journey to the Waterfall Coast and Kake:
This day marked the longest leg of our adventure. With our vessel fully fueled and stocked, we headed to the east shore of Baranof Island, famously known as the Waterfall Coast, with our destination being the Native Alaskan village of Kake. Along the way, we made stops for Coastal Brown Bear pictures and occasionally spotted humpback whales, adding to the excitement of the journey. Venturing into small bays, we were treated to the grandeur of towering waterfalls, a hallmark of this scenic shoreline. Our lunch venue at Red Bluff Bay, with its red rock cliffs contrasting the snowy peaks above, provided a picturesque backdrop for a memorable meal.
Serendipitous Encounter and Bubble-Net Feeding Extravaganza: Exiting Red Bluff Bay, we witnessed a majestic eagle swimming with its catch, using its wings like a swimmer doing the butterfly stroke – a sight not often seen. Crossing Chatham Strait to Tebnekof Bay on the western shore of Kuiu Island, our hopes were set on witnessing bubble-net feeding whales. Although we spotted about 20 humpback individuals in the bay, we were initially disappointed as none of them were cooperatively feeding as a group. However, our spirits soared when we spotted a group of about 10 blows closely together, just north and close to the shoreline. Our instinct led us in that direction, and our excitement was rewarded when we found a group of approximately 12 whales engaged in bubble-net feeding.
An Enthralling Whale Symphony: As we approached the feeding whales, we cut the engines, and the hull of our vessel resonated with the enchanting calls of these magnificent creatures. The intensity of the sound gave us a clue to their proximity, while a couple of sea lions feeding on the leftovers from the feeding indicated the precise spot where the whales would emerge through the mass of fleeing herring. The sight of their mouths agape and lower jaws bulging as they surfaced left us in awe. This remarkable group consistently executed the bubble-net feeding technique at least 35 times, an extraordinary spectacle of nature.
A Bear Feast by the Creek: With unforgettable memories of the whales etched in our hearts, we promised to return to this remarkable area, but it was time to make our way to the lodge for a late dinner. En route, as we crossed a creek, we were met with a surprise – five black bears feasting on the salmon as they headed upstream. Nature’s wonders seemed to unfold at every turn of this remarkable journey.