From the National Geographic Sea Bird in Alaska
May 16, 2012 - National Geographic Sea Bird
Glacier Bay National Park
The morning was filled with sunshine, puffy clouds and gorgeous views of glacier-sculpted earth as we entered Glacier Bay. On the horizon, the small island of South Marble grew in size and presence as the ruckus of birds and lions grew bigger on approach. The roars of Steller sea lions, the cackle of gulls and other birds made this small island come to life in a wild symphony. As we maneuvered through the bay and it's inlets we spotted a black bear working the shoreline. It was foraging for barnacles and shellfish, giving people a great view of his shimmery black fur and plenty of photo opportunities.
Moving more deeply into the depths of the bay, we spied several mountain goats clinging to the cliffs, and spotted a lone sub-adult brown bear roaming the shoreline much like his black bear cousin we’d watched earlier. The bear was a beautiful golden color with outstanding chocolate legs. We mirrored its direction up the beach when Elise spotted two gray wolves lying in its path. The entire ship watched from the deck, anticipating a collision of the two species. This had the recipe of a National Geographic moment and our cameras were ready. The bear soon caught a whiff of the lazy canines and became uneasy. He started to move away from the wolves with a nervous gait, giving the onlookers a great standing posture prior to bolting into the snow and yielding to the wolves. The wolves gave the bear a few glances but seemed mostly indifferent to the bruin. Both wolves were dark in coloration and had primarily black fur but the larger of the two seemed frosted in gray, indicating an older animal. The smaller wolf was magnificent in coloration; mostly black with rich caramel dashed about its face and body. It was the best looking wolf I have ever seen!
As we neared Margerie Glacier we noticed an additional two brown bears tussling along the shoreline. They were obviously mature bears but seemed to be playing with one another. As we approached they halted their play to take a cool dip in the cool glacial waters. After a good bath, both returned to land and grazed on sedge and grass near the water’s edge. WOW, another fantastic bear sighting!! There was much speculation on the "who's" and "what's" of these bears. My best guess is that they were either two adult siblings hanging out together, or a mating pair. It is the beginning of the mating season, but the tolerant nature the bears had for one another seemed a little more forgiving than a sow would give to a courting boar.
As we moved to the end of the inlet, the glacier gave us some good calving, and we returned our "oooohs" and "awwwws"in appreciation of her massive, powerful show. It was a perfect Southeast Alaska day.