Swimming Scallops and Grizzly Bears

Location: Peril Strait, Sitka Sound, southeast Alaska.

Comments: My plan was to pop around the outside today and spend our last scuba dive day of this trip in Sitka Sound. Unfortunately, some bad weather was brewing in the Gulf of Alaska and I judged it better to take the sheltered and flat calm inside route and finish off with one dive at Sergius Narrows and a second dive at the north (and protected) end of Sitka Sound. Dive #2 was an exploratory mission during slack tide in East Narrows and it turned out to be another winner. Lots of potential dens for giant pacific octopus. Lots of fish including a very bizarre situation with a large lingcod that had apparently gobbled another lingcod not much smaller than itself  –  divers reported that the smaller lingcod appeared to be quite calm (or maybe resigned?) in the mouth of the bigger one and they guessed that it’s tail had to be almost in the stomach of the bigger fish!!

Best of all, we discovered thousands and thousands of swimming scallops on the bottom. Our scuba divers took great amusement in watching the pink and spiny scallops lift off the seabed and swim away as soon as the bivalve detected the presence of the divers. Interestingly, if you ever take a close look at the shell of a scallop, you will see tiny jewels all around the opening. Each “jewel” is actually an eye complete with a retina (or so I’ve read) although they apparently only use every 4th “eye.” Very cool.

Divemaster AJ spotted a grizzly bear (coastal brown bear) on the beach on the way back to the Nautilus Explorer so we cut the engines on the skiff and drifted in towards the shoreline. “Brownies” appear to be soooo cute from a distance (although Timothy Treadwell would likely beg to differ if he was still around). This particular guy was slowly ambling along the beach, turning over rocks and checking things out when he came up to a log. To our complete astonishment, he climbed up on the log and literally pranced the length of it at high speed and in a very dainty way before dismounting and going back to his slow shuffle. I love Alaska.

–Captain Mike


Weather: High overcast, air temperatures in the high 50’s, calm seas, calm winds

Water: Water temperature 45°F, visibility 25 – 25 feet and better deeper

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