Sunday, August 05, 2007

The best shore excursion, ever.

Update: Thanks to Wendy from Taquan Air for pointing out that I had the incorrect shore excursion listed. It has been corrected.

Taquan Air describes it thusly:
Alaska Bear Adventure

Experience the thrill of taking off from the Ketchikan waterfront by floatplane with a veteran Alaska bush pilot, on this unique wildlife expedition only available to a small number of visitors. Your pilot will guide you to a remote site in the Tongass National Forest noted for its salmon rich streams and abundant wildlife. A 20-minute flight takes you by historic homesteads and over the sparkling waters of Alaska's fabled Inside Passage. View an unfolding landscape of forested mountains and pristine lakes on your way to our choice remote viewing location.

Few forest locations in North America offer the wildlife viewing opportunities found here! Upon landing you will be met by an Alaskan naturalist, and driven approximately one mile by van, along a forest road, to a trailhead. A pleasant and short hike along an improved trail leads to a viewing platform overlooking a beautiful salmon spawning stream. Along the way, your guide will identify the variety of vegetation that flourishes in this rich rain-forest environment.

From the viewing platform, you will look down on stunning rapids as the fast flowing creek cascades towards the sea and the large numbers of salmon in the stream congregate to complete their spawning journey. This is where black bear gather to feed on runs of pink, Coho, and Chum salmon, as they head upstream to spawn. Bald eagles perch in the surrounding trees waiting for fish scraps left by the bears. In addition, a variety of birds, Sitka black-tailed deer, mink and marten frequent the area.
I found the flights onboard the DeHavilland Beaver to be a thrill of their own. We came in low over the trees and had bears sighted by the pilot.

Upon landing on Prince of Wales Island, we were transported to a stream that was full of pink salmon struggling upstream to spawn. At these small rapids the fish filled the small area of calm water.

The pinks (Oncorhynchus gorbuscha, also known as the "humpback" or "humpy" salmon) would then try to jump through and over the rapids.

Eventually Usrus americanus emerged to feed, approximately 100 feet from our wooden platform on the opposite bank.

This black bear took three attempts to snag a salmon in his jaws and then climbed back into the brush to feed.

The return flight to Ketchikam offered more beautiful views. Even these photos through the windshield turned out great.

The weather was outstanding for our trip. We were told several times how lucky we were with the weather we had all week.

Many thanks to our island guide, Jim Diamond, and our bush pilots from Taquan Air for this great experience.


Wendy said...

You referenced the wrong tour description. The excursion you took was the Alaska Bear Adventure. The Neets Bay Bear tour is operated by Promech Air, not Taquan Air. Many thanks for the compliments and your feedback.

Headless Blogger said...

Thanks for that correction Wendy. I was wondering why my mental compass didn't line up with the Google Map location of Neets Bay. I'll update this entry tonight.