Alaska Cruise Report: LeConte Bay and Petersburg

From the National Geographic Sea Bird in Alaska August 31, 2010

It was a misty morning with rays of sunlight streaming through the low clouds as the National Geographic Sea Bird slowly made her way up LeConte Bay at the south end of Frederick Sound. Stretch class was held on the aft bridge deck, followed by a mango strawberry smoothie and breakfast buffet. To the delight of the many photographers onboard, after breakfast we had another opportunity to take pictures of various sized icebergs, bergy bits and the smaller growlers. Yesterday we toured Tracy Arm by Zodiac, watching large chunks of ice calve off Sawyer Glacier, and this morning we explored the ice-filled waters flowing out from LeConte Glacier. This glacier is the southernmost tidewater glacier in the northern hemisphere and it also has one of the most actively calving tidewater faces, resulting in massive icebergs that drift down the length of LeConte Bay. From the Zodiacs, we could see countless icebergs that ranged in color from a deep transparent blue to snowy white. The variety of shapes and sizes was quite impressive.

Back on board, Kim Heacox, one of our National Geographic Staff members, was in the midst of giving a photography presentation, called The Art of Seeing, when the bridge called down and announced the sighting of killer whales. We spent about half an hour following and photographing the two animals as they slowly made their way along the shoreline.

After lunch we docked at Petersburg, a small Alaskan town on the north end of Mitkof Island. It is a lively fishing town; the residents of Petersburg rely mainly on fishing as their source of income. The town grew up around a salmon cannery and sawmill built in 1897-1899 and since then it has grown to about 3,000 people. Options for the afternoon included a bog walk on Kupreanof across Wrangell Narrows, a floatplane ride over LeConte Glacier, bicycling around town, shopping for gifts and souvenirs at the locally owned shops, or a tour of the wharf to look at the fishing boats and the sea anemones that live beneath the dock.

To finish the day, after recap we sat down to a Dungeness crab feast, freshly caught and picked up in Petersburg and complete with melted butter and lemon wedges.

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