With the early morning sun illuminating the peaks of the Alaska Peninsula, we gathered out on deck to watch our approach into Geographic Harbor in Katmai National Park. This area is known for its brown bears, so with binoculars in hand we scoured the shoreline and open areas in search of them. The calls of marbled murrelets echoed across the bay as we made our way into the inner harbor.
Low tide attracts bears to the shoreline because of easier access to intertidal creatures like clams, crabs, and snails. Our superb captain and expedition leader had timed our arrival to coincide perfectly with the falling tide, and we quickly boarded Zodiacs to search the maze of islands and channels for foraging bears. Within minutes we spotted our first bear, which was completely distracted by its task of locating and digging up clams from the sandy beach. Once the clam was secured, the bear used its massive weight to break open the shells with its paws. Gulls, crows, and magpies were never far away, hoping to make a meal out of the leftovers.
Over the course of the morning, we came across several more bears wandering the shoreline, including some females with young cubs. Bald eagles soared over the water searching for unwary fish, while streams of water poured down the steep rocky mountainside. It was a wild place indeed, and just sitting and listening to the silence brought home how remote Katmai really is.