Whales, Bears & More in Southeast Alaska with Wendy Shattil

The calm waters of southeast Alaska’s Inside Passage teem with captivating wildlife and breathtaking scenery. At this time of year humpback whales congregate in large numbers and may indulge in impressive bubble-net feeding, breaching, tail lobbing and other dramatic behaviors. We’ll travel from Sitka to Juneau, Alaska aboard the classic wooden boat, the M/V Westward, where you’ll have a front row seat for sea lion haul-outs, bald eagles and an ancient glacier with giant icebergs calving off its face. We’ll search for brown bears catching salmon, walk through lush and serene rainforests, explore the diversity of creatures in tide pools and skiff or kayak through the gentle waters, drifting quietly past hanging gardens and waterfalls.

Benefit from Wendy Shattil’s 30+ years of field experience as a professional wildlife and conservation photographer. The remote wilderness adventures we’ll encounter from our comfortable wandering home invite a tranquility of the soul. Expect to be stimulated by the quiet solitude and reminded of our place in nature. We’ll do our best to capture these feelings and experiences with our eyes and our cameras and learn the power of our own storytelling ability through compelling imagery.

Whatever your skill level, you will learn tips, techniques and strategies to create memorable images. In the comfort of the Westward’s salon we’ll project our images and review the day’s experiences in a friendly group setting. Rather than snapping pictures and hurrying to find the next encounter, we’ll take time to savor each moment. Every scene is constantly changing, each animal is an individual and every behavior has a purpose.

A feeling is worth a thousand pictures

Story and photography by Tim Irvin

We were deep in the Great Bear Rainforest of British Columbia, Canada (about 500 miles northwest of Seattle), the home of the white spirit bear. Before us was what we had hoped for. The bear had accepted our presence and was now perched on a rock mid-stream scanning the creek for salmon. Her white fur was wet from overnight rain and steam rose from her back in the morning sun. It was like a scene from National Geographic television – only this was live.

Spirit bears (also known as Kermode bears) are an exceedingly rare sub-species of American black bear with a recessive genetic trait that makes their fur white. There are perhaps only 200 to 400 in existence and they are found only in British Columbia's Great Bear Rainforest. © Tim Irvin

Spirit bears (also known as Kermode bears) are an exceedingly rare sub-species of American black bear with a recessive genetic trait that makes their fur white. There are perhaps only 200 to 400 in existence and they are found only in British Columbia’s Great Bear Rainforest. © Tim Irvin

Our group of photographers and nature buffs was thrilled. Between snapping photos we glanced at each other – smiling widely, giving each other the thumbs up. We never could have imagined this exact scene beforehand, but the hope of being part of something like this was why we had come. Continue reading