Mud Bay & the Inian Islands

Jun 06, 2018 - National Geographic Sea Bird


We sailed into Mud Bay in the morning under broken clouds that revealed lovely blue skies. Waters were calm and reflective, and in the near distance we saw sea otters and humpback whales. Our plans for the morning included kayaking and exploring along the shoreline, the beach, and deeper into the forest. At the edge of the high tide line and the beach grasses, we discovered chocolate lilies about to bloom, beach strawberry plants with their delicate blossoms, and the fresh green of cow parsnip, silver fern, oak fern and more. We also found fresh evidence of a bear and followed a natural bear trail just inside the forest edge, where we studied fungi and giant lupine. Others chose to go on a moderate hike deeper into the forest, where they found a meadow and a stream. After lunch, we sailed towards the Inian Islands, anchoring in the Hobbit Hole, and took the expedition landing crafts out to cruise through the islands. The sun shined through breaks in the clouds, lighting up the edge of the islands. Here at the western edge of Icy Strait, the flood tide from the open sea meets the outflow of the Inside Passage and Icy Strait, creating an upwelling that pushes food closer to the surface, making it easier for the animals to feed. It’s a favorite place for sea otters, sea lions, humpbacks, eagles, and other birds. We saw Steller sea lions catching fish, thrashing them back and forth to break off bite-sized pieces, as hungry gulls hung close by for scraps. We observed a pelagic cormorant rookery, sea otters preening as they flowed along with the currents, many bald eagles in treetops and their nests. One group got a closer look at a humpback whale as it arched its back and dove, showing its fluke. All in all, it was a fantastic day of great activity.

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About the Author

Brenda Tharp

Naturalist/Certified Photo Instructor

For over 20 years, Brenda has used her photographs of the world to celebrate its beauty, and inspire others to protect what we have. Brenda grew up exploring the woods, lakes, and coastlines of New Jersey and New England and her family traveled regularly throughout the eastern U.S., camping, hiking, backpacking, and canoeing. She spent most of her childhood engaging with nature in some form or another and learning about animal behavior. When her father taught her some photography at 13, Brenda soon combined her love for nature with her newfound passion, and several years later her adventure began as a freelance photographer, teacher, and writer.

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