Kuiu Island

It’s the fifteenth-largest island in the US, but I’ll bet you never heard of it. Pronounced “koo-you,” it’s 65 miles long and that means there’s a lot of coastline to explore. Starting on the northeast corner, we explored some new anchorages for us. We’re cruising like “butter on an English muffin,” getting into all the nooks and crannies, and the best spots are the ones with bears on the beach! Here in the “panhandle” of Alaska, brown bears tend to dominate on the islands from midway to the north, and black bears are more common from midway to the south. Black bears can come in a variety of colors – black, cinnamon, and the rare glacier bear morph which is blue-gray. Farther south in one small area in British Columbia there’s creamy white morph (not albino) called a Kermode or “spirit” bear.

While waiting for the fish to start heading up the streams, bears need to find other things to eat. We’re seeing a lot of black bears turning over rocks at low tide. On the video that follows, I left the sound alone so you can hear the sound of the rocks clacking together. I went ashore later on and tried to turn a few of the same rocks – no way!

We found a gang of river otters splashing around – about 8 animals, though they were pretty wary – keeping a close eye and snorting at me.

River otter

Wildlife… wild flowers… there’s so much to see.

Young bald eagle
Young bald eagle
Columbine
Red paintbrush

I found a fluffy young Steller’s jay perched on the rocks – these birds are plucky and noisy!

The islands around us had some neat pillars and pass-throughs, as well as small sea caves – a bounty for exploration, especially in the kayak. I saw some of the usual jellyfish – moon jellies and lion’s mane, but this one was really striking.

The water was teeming with tiny marine larvae – they were not much bigger than the head of a pin, little blue-gray balls with tiny wings – millions of them. Our scientist friend Brian said that they are most likely Nauplius larvae – the earliest development form of many marine creatures.

After a fun couple of days it was time to move to the next nook, but not before Jim had to clear the anchor of kelp (and a starfish, and a piece of hose)! Yes, there is an anchor somewhere under that hairball.

The weather has been generally overcast, but the seas were glassy – giving us beautiful reflections of the mountains on Baranof Island across the way as we headed south. This pretty blue sky disappeared shortly after I took the photo.

In the center of the photo below you can just make out the low red bluffs that give Red Bluff Bay (where we stopped in early June) its name.

Aside from a few trollers, the waterway is very quiet. Trollers catch the beautiful, perfect salmon you would find in a five-star restaurant.

Commercial fishing troller

We’re tucked into a new anchorage now, closer to the west and shorter mountains so we can enjoy a rare sunset.

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