From the National Geographic Sea Lion in Alaska, Thursday, May 27, 2010
Even the early risers to venture outside felt the delightful warmth as the National Geographic Sea Lion made her way from Bartlett Cove, near the mouth of Glacier Bay. The Fairweather Mountains, including 15,300 foot Mount Fairweather, seventy-two miles distant, were clearly etched high against the deep, deep blue sky. Our goal today was to explore the bay, enjoying the striking scenery and glaciers, and to look for wildlife.
South Marble Island is an important sea bird nesting colony and Steller’s sea lion haul out. Tufted puffins flew and floated by. Common murres, pigeon guillemots, double-crested cormorants, common ravens, bald eagles and a variety of gulls filled the picture with diversity and action. Glaucous-winged gulls seemed to be breeding on every rock. Sea lions lay like tan blobs on the rocks, grunting, groaning and snorting. Their accompanying fishy smell wafted out to the ship. In the water, sea lions, despite their great size and bulk, cavorted gracefully.
Continuing up bay, into the west arm of this complex of fjords, we poked our nose into Tidal Inlet, finding a brown bear along the shoreline. Gloomy Knob, traditional home to mountain goats, had plenty of goats for us to enjoy, including nannys with their kids and billys. Surprisingly, there was also a very blond brown bear.
We passed by Russell Island, and through Tarr Inlet, finally reaching the Margerie and Grand Pacific Glaciers. Here we spent time to take in the almost otherworldly vistas. Ice walls surged almost two hundred feet above us, harbor seals swam in the chalky colored water, a bald eagle flew by and suddenly swooped to grab a fish, and a chorus of kittiwakes squawked their name.
Heading down bay, the sun and scenery continued to feed our eyes and souls. After dinner, we made our way ashore to enjoy a stroll in the soft evening light.
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