Glacier Bay National Park

Jun 19, 2018 - National Geographic Sea Lion

We experienced a beautiful day today exploring Glacier Bay National Park. It certainly was an amazing day because the weather seemed more appropriate for Florida than Alaska. The sun shined over mostly clear skies, with only the occasional cloud here and there and many of us discovered quickly that we were wearing too many layers of clothing. Sunglasses and even sun blocks were readily utilized! We started early in the morning at the park's headquarters in Bartlett Cove to pick up a couple of guests that traveled with us the whole day, a park ranger and a Tlingit cultural interpreter. They truly added another great layer of learning and insight to our experience in Glacier Bay. 

Our first stop was at a small islet named South Marble Island, where the strong pungent smell of a group of Steller's sea lions greeted us. The Steller's is the largest sea lion on earth and some truly impressive big males scattered among the majority of immatures were good examples of that. We even watched a very young pup, living proof of how this colony, which started a few years ago as a small haul out of old and immature individuals, has grown and now some breeding is starting. We also had a great time bird watching at South Marble Island because numerous sea birds made their home there—glaucous-winged gulls, blacklegged kittiwakes, and pelagic cormorants were seen nesting on the cliffs, while common murres and tufted puffins flew all around us. Black oystercatchers, harlequin ducks, and a couple of bald eagles complemented the list. 

As we continued our journey to the northernmost part of the bay, we spotted some mountain goats and a solitary brown bear that was enjoying the sunshine up high in the mountainside. A couple of humpback whales and many sea otters were discovered as well; numerous harbor seals were seen sunbathing on ice floes, looking at us with their huge eyes as we sailed past them. However, it was the impressive view of the glaciers that made our day. First the Lamplough, then the John Hopkins, and finally the Margerie and Grand Pacific Glaciers regaled us with their grandeur and amazing colors. At the Margerie Glacier we had the chance to witness some great calving that helped us understand the whole process of change and rebirth that make Glacier Bay such a spectacular place.


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About the Author

Carlos Navarro

Undersea Specialist

Carlos J. Navarro is a biochemist specializing in marine biology, a M. Sc. in Environmental Management and a freelance wildlife photographer/author. Carlos has spent most of the last 30 years living along the shores of the Sea of Cortez and participating in numerous scientific, conservation and environmental education projects on the vaquita, marine invertebrates, sea birds, great white sharks, baleen whales, jaguars and crocodiles. Carlos’ six years of jaguar research provided the basis of ONCA MAYA, a non-profit organization dedicated to jaguar conservation based in Cancun, of which he is a founding member and still serves as a scientific advisor. He loves being underwater, either free-diving or using SCUBA gear and have had the chance to explore the underwater realms of Alaska, Mexico, Svalbard, the trans-Atlantic ridge islands, the Caribbean and both coasts of South America from Panama to Chile and Brazil to Argentina. 

About the Videographer

Matthew Ritenour

Video Chronicler

Matthew grew up on the Gulf of Mexico, where a love of geography, culture and history were instilled at a young age. He studied anthropology at California State University, Chico, and soon began working at the Advanced Laboratory for Visual Anthropology (ALVA), a documentary production studio that focuses on sharing the results of anthropological research with the public. As a cinematographer and editor at ALVA, he documented research on everything from the effects of drought in California, to looted petroglyphs in the Sierra Nevada high desert, and the global trade in emeralds.

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