Le Conte Glacier/ Petersburg

Jul 20, 2018 - National Geographic Sea Lion


We woke to a beautifully calm and sunny morning as we eased towards the Le Conte Glacier mouth. Low clouds rolled over the tree-lined mountains while marbled murrelets bobbed in the glassy waters. The glacier itself has retreated several miles back from the shoreline and is no longer visible, but we know it is still quite active by the large number of icebergs that collect near its terminal moraine. Boarding the expedition landing craft, we crossed the bar and cruised through the icebergs that were scattered about and glistening in the rising sun. Sculpted by water and softened by the sun, these icebergs spend their days plying the currents and resting on the shallow sea bed. Some of the icebergs had deep blue sections, which are always a favorite of the photographers. One of the icebergs calved off a small piece and filled the sea with smaller bits of brash ice.

During lunch, the captain maneuvered the ship into a very tight berth in Petersburg. Once the ship was secured everyone burst ashore, ready to explore the many options for the afternoon. Some sailed across the straights for the bog walks, some boarded planes for flightseeing, while many chose to explore the docks before heading into town. The sun was out all afternoon and locals and visitors alike reveled in this fantastic weather.

Once back on board, we enjoyed our recap and were treated to a preview of the video our video chronicler Julio has been working on. He did a masterful job of capturing the wildlife and energy of our incredible voyage. After all the announcements, our expedition leader Stephanie appeared, dressed as an otter, to announce our crab feast, and what a dinner it was: ribs, handmade biscuits, corn on the cob and, of course, lots and lots of crab!

At the end of dinner, Stephanie announced that whales had been spotted in the distance. With deserts and coffee in hand, we headed for the bow to be treated to a single humpback whale lunge feeding at the surface. At one point, the whale swam next to the boat and proceeded to blow a ring of bubbles just before it erupted through the center. It was the perfect ending to another wonderful day on National Geographic Sea Lion in South East Alaska.

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About the Author

Colin McNulty

Undersea Specialist

Colin grew up scuba diving with his family, and fell in love with the ocean at an early age.  He has been fortunate to dive in many exotic corners of the world, and to work on a number of undersea research projects studying whale sharks and several deep water fish species.  After graduating from the University of Vermont, he began working in various capacities aboard expedition ships.  During his travels he photographed and shared his adventures as a way of making remote areas and cultures more accessible.  It was in Santa Barbara, California that he learned how to photograph underwater, and combined two of his great passions, photography and the sea.  Exploring and documenting the vast richness, diversity, and beauty of the underwater world continues to be a lifelong endeavor.

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