Alaska Cruise Report: Glacier Bay National Park

From the National Geographic Sea Lion in Alaska July 13, 2010

The greatest day of the expedition! Glacier Bay National Park, the largest national park in the country, was where we began our day. We started very early in the morning by picking up our park ranger, who had so much to offer to us, with his knowledge and experience. After breakfast, we went to South Marble Island, where we saw a large colony of different seabirds, as well as of a rookery of male Steller sea lions. They are magnificent animals, almost twice the size of a California sea lion; no barking though, only a deep rumbling!

On we sailed, 65 miles north into the bay, almost to the border of Canada, where the jewel of the day awaited us. Before that, we stopped at Tide Inlet, where we observed a brown bear foraged in the forest, and then at the seaside, eating an abundant quantity of muscles, and other delicious crustaceans and worms obtained from under the rocks it overturned.

Around the corner we spent time at Gloomy Knob, watching mountain goats high up in the clouds (that were really very low!). On we sailed. Eventually we made it up to the face of the Margerie Glacier, the most beautiful glacier in the bay; tall walls of ice, with black lateral moraines, incredibly large and sharp shark teeth or seracks. After a good wait, we were rewarded with a big calving and a corresponding huge splash with a loud sumdum noise (the natives called it that, we could call it white thunder). A colony of kittiwakes hung off the next door cliff, as we could attest by the continuous calls they made. As we began our return trip down to the mouth of the fjord, we stopped by Lamplugh Glacier, half tide-water already, as it rests half on land, half in the water.

On our return trip to Bartlett Cove, we stopped by a dead humpback whale that was found by the Park Service in May. To our luck we saw a brown bear on it, feeding on the ripe blubber. For a good while we watched this animal, until a larger brown bear showed up and evicted the younger one!


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