Tracy Arm Ford’s Terror Wilderness Area

Jun 11, 2018 - National Geographic Sea Lion

After a night spent travelling south from downtown Juneau, we woke up shrouded in mist as we entered Tracy Arm fjord. We eagerly spotted our first of many icebergs for the day as we headed into William’s Cove. Here, the boat anchored and we were able to explore the bay, both by land and sea. Kayakers found cascades of water along a far shoreline, as the hikers ventured a little ways into the forest to enjoy the smells of chocolate lilies and skunk cabbage. A young coastal brown bear, most likely male, meandered along the shore some ways away from our landing site, where everyone was able to observe as he foraged for some snacks along the intertidal zone and in the grasses on the edge of the forest.

During lunch, the National Geographic Sea Lion made its way farther into Tracy Arm Fjord, towards South Sawyer Glacier. At Sawyer Island, we got onto the zodiac boats to get a closer view of the glacier’s face, as well as a little taste of sunshine for the afternoon. Luckily, for us, we are currently in the middle of pupping season for these harbor seals; this enabled us to witness about 100 adult females with and without their pups resting and nursing on the ice. North American bald eagles of all ages perched in the area, hoping to get a little snack of afterbirth within minutes of a harbor seal pup being born.

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About the Author

JIll Niederberger


Jill is an aquatic biologist, naturalist, divemaster, and captain with a love for everything living in and depending on water. Whether sailing catamarans, leading snorkeling tours, or assisting with cetacean field research projects, she enjoys connecting others to the wilderness around them. Her most recent adventures have led her into a focus on marine mammals – those creatures with fur and blubber that defy the odds by living in or depending on an environment in which they cannot breathe.

About the Photographer

David Spiegel

Naturalist/Certified Photo Instructor

David grew up in the Seattle area, where he fell in love with nature through outdoor sports in the Pacific Northwest. He first picked up a camera during a 14-day Grand Canyon river trip at the age of 18. Little did he know that his hobby would morph into a lifelong passion and career. He moved to Colorado to pursue a degree in International Political Economy from Colorado College. After receiving his degree, he applied his passion for media to documenting watershed conservation issues in the Colorado River Basin states through the lens of a 900-mile-long river expedition in 2012.

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