I've spent time around large things - studying elephants and rhinoceros in South Africa, playing in the peaks of the Rocky Mountain West - but nothing makes you feel small like sitting in a sea kayak being charged by a pack of sea lions (video after the break). Splashing and yelling, the 15-headed monster moved right for our boat and I began to wonder what might happen if they didn’t stop. Then the enormous creatures gracefully disappeared under the water, nowhere to be seen. Only one word is needed to explain and describe it simultaneously: ALASKA (which Gregg always insisted on saying in a deep, raspy whisper).
We were warned to be aware of bears, whose density on W. Chichagof is estimated to be more than 50 times greater than that of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, home base for ASC, but no one had said anything about the sea lions.
Most importantly though, we were 100% successful in our field campaign, collecting every single sensor installed last year. While in the wilderness we also collected data for the US Forest Service’s Wilderness Characterization Study, helping land managers understand the impact of humans on wilderness areas.
After passing a large gathering of sea otters, floating on their back balancing the young pups on their chests, we entered Klagg Bay where our sea lion friends joined the rest of their posse. After our close encounter they continued escorting us back, wishing us farewell as we headed home the next morning. But don’t worry, I will be back.
You can also keep up with the adventures of the ASC Team in Gregg's posts to National Geographic's Explorers Journal. Subscribe to the Explorers Journal and visit Gregg's page on National Geographic. Make sure to sign up for our newsletter, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter (@AdventurScience) to keep up with what we have going on.