Glacier Bay National Park

Jun 04, 2014 - National Geographic Sea Lion


Mountain goats on Gloomy Knob.
Orca at Point Gustavus.

Our early morning wake-up call was “Good morning, we have a very special wildlife sighting so please join us on the deck.” A pod of seven resident orcas were gliding through the glassy waters of Glacier Bay below the spectacular Fairweather Range. What an incredible way to start our beautiful day in Southeast Alaska. After picking up our park ranger Marylou Blakeslee and Tlingit cultural interpreter Alice Keishge, we started our journey north into this unique national park.

The wildlife sightings continued as we plied the placid waters of Glacier Bay National Park on this warm and clear day. Steller sea lions occupied the polished rocks of Marble Island as seabirds vied the air for the best nesting sights on these newly formed islands when the glacier retreated approximately 80 years ago. Further up the bay, we encounter a coastal brown bear along the shoreline of Tidal Inlet using its powerful legs and body to turn larger boulders over in search of sea creatures to suffice its appetite until the salmon fill the streams. Just around the point at Gloomy Knob, we were treated to dozens of mountain goats precariously perched on the sides of the cliff including a few recently born kids with their nannies.

We continued northward up Glacier Bay past Russell Island with the impressive Fairweather Range to our west. As we approached Tarr Inlet, the small bergy bits of ice started to thicken until we reached the end of the inlet at the massive Margerie Glacier. This active tidewater glacier provided us with one of nature’s finest spectacles of calving ice below beautiful mountain peaks under blue skies. On our southbound journey, Alice Keishge shared some wonderful Tlingit stories about her people and Marylou Blakeslee explained some educational facts about this wonderful place.

We rounded out our perfect Southeast Alaska day cruising south under clear skies and taking a short walk in Bartlett Cove.

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About the Author

Rich Reid

National Geographic Photographer

Award-winning photographer and filmmaker Rich Reid has specialized in environmental and adventure photography for over two decades. On assignment with National Geographic Adventure magazine, he cycled Alaska’s Inside Passage by ferry and explored California’s Gaviota Coast by bike and kayak. North American Nature Photography Association elected Rich as a Fellow for his significant contributions to the nature photography industry, and he was a finalist for the BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year for his time-lapse video documenting forest fire ecology.

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