Sunday, July 24, 2011

Salmon and Otter and Bear, oh my!

July 14-20
Sitka to Kalinin Bay

Click on the photos to expand the size 

Sea otters are the cutest marine mammals, endearingly appealing with their whiskery, grandpalike faces and silly antics. They are also extremely wary and typically stay just out of good camera range, unlike their cousins the river otters. Every year we hope to capture some better otter shots. This year it helped that we found a large otter that swam closer to the boat to watch us while we watched him. 

This critter rolled and turned repeatedly, twisting effortlessly while he floated along mid-channel. Every now and again he’d pop his head up higher and study us. Was he posing for the camera? How un-otterlike.

Another otter swam around inside Kalinin Bay, weaving in and out among the anchored boats without concern. I wondered, was he there to feed on crab or the schools of salmon that were returning to swim upriver and spawn? We saw him dine on a lot of small crab each day. This otter was definitely not interested in being photographed; he kept his distance.

Sitka deer romped along the Kalinin shore, chasing each other around in between periods of grazing. Two grizzlies roamed the same area, munching on the tall bear grass farther up on the shore. The bear sightings were infrequent, but close enough to our anchorage that it was easy bear viewing.

The larger bear had a scruffy coat, its hindquarters a patchwork of uneven colors and texture. 

The smaller bear looked less bedraggled, was more timid and easily startled, wandering back and forth between its sibling and the shelter of the brushy treeline. 

The water outside the bay was pretty lumpy, stirred up by storms offshore, so we turned back on our first two fishing excursions. The Capt fished solo on the third trip into Salisbury Sound and came back with two nice salmon and a big grin. The grin grew larger and so did the fish as the days went by. We ate a lot of salmon that week.

White gums are indicators of a coho salmon
I had a bad case of skiff envy. There were times we didn’t go fishing because the water outside the bay was too rough for comfort and safety in our 13-foot Boston Whaler. The guys in a 20-foot, enclosed cabin, aluminum skiff fished more often and caught more salmon, King salmon, than anyone else in the bay. I don't want to tow a skiff while we travel, but when we fish...  Skiff envy, for sure. (and that skiff probably had a head and a heater too!)

The weather was incredibly changeable, blowing and still, downpours and spots of sunshine (briefly), foggy and then clear… and all that in one day! That's summer in Southeast.

NO! that little spot of blue doesn't count as a sunny day


  1. Aw, this was a really nice post. In idea I would like to put in writing like this additionally - taking time and actual effort to make a very good article… but what can I say… I procrastinate alot and by no means seem to get something done.

  2. @anonymous - thank you for the kind words. I agree, it is so easy to enjoy the experience, and less compelling to write about it.


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