Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve

Jul 25, 2018 - National Geographic Quest

National Geographic Quest quietly glided into Bartlett Cove, located at the southern end of the Chilkat Peninsula, this morning. As guests awoke to a gorgeous sunrise over the mountains, a National Park Ranger and Tlingit Cultural Interpreter joined them for the trip into Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve. The sun shone on blows of humpback whales against a backdrop of the snow-capped Fairweather Mountain Range, and National Geographic Quest headed towards South Marble Island. This first stop in the national park is a known resting spot for marine mammals and nesting site for a plethora of birds. Guests spotted both tufted and horned puffins paddling in the water next to pelagic cormorants, pigeon guillemots, and black-legged kittiwakes. 1500-pound Steller sea lions lounged along the coastline, roaring back and forth to each other, as sleeping sea otters calmly floated along next to the ship. 

Continuing north into the West Arm of Glacier Bay, National Geographic Quest nosed into Tidal Inlet in a continued search for wildlife. Guests spotted a brown bear napping on a mountainside, as well as a nanny and kid mountain goat grazing on Gloomy Knob. As the ship ventured further into the bay, the temperate rainforest gave way to sheer granite cliffs towering over emerald green waters starting to fill with “bergy bits” – small pieces of floating ice – hinting at the glaciers still to come. Hundreds of harbor seals were hauled out on the thrash ice in front of Johns Hopkins Glacier. Guests shared a rare moment of silence to listen to the sounds of “white thunder” as bits of ice calved off of the glacier’s face. Enjoying the wild beauty, they remained on the sundeck to watch as the glacier faded into the distance as National Geographic Quest made its way south out of the bay. After a full day of observation from the ship, guests offloaded in Bartlett Cove to explore some coastal trails and stretch their legs. A special guest, local author and musician Kim Heacox joined the guests for stories and music before all headed to a good night’s rest.

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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 Videographer

Dave Katz

Video Chronicler

As a family growing up in the Finger Lakes region of New York, free time was spent in the outdoors. Dave’s mother, an earth science and biology teacher turned weekend hikes into informative lessons. The beautiful gorges, lakes and forests made a lasting impression.

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