Glacier Bay National Park

May 21, 2019 - National Geographic Quest

The guests aboard National Geographic Quest woke early today for a day filled with majestic beauty and incredible wildlife. An early sunrise displayed the majesty of Glacier Bay National Park and guests were treated to a daylong educational tour of the Bay from Ranger Janene Driscoll and cultural interpreter Paulette Moreno. Ranger Janene educated guests on the natural and geologic history of the Bay, amazing listeners with the fact that this area experienced its last ice age only 250 years ago, and many of the inlets and islands that encompass the bay display new vegetation and growth as a result of this recent ice age. Cultural interpreter Paulette provided a wealth of information around the native cultures who have and continue to inhabit this area. The native Tlingit people—pronounced “TLIN-git (soft L-sound)—have called Glacier Bay home for generations. The term Tlingit translates to “people of the tides.” As the glaciers of the area have advanced and receded, so to have the Tlingit people, adapting their traditions but remaining strong and vibrant.

Throughout the morning guests were treated to multiple wildlife sightings. At South Marble Island the sounds of gulls, black-legged kittiwakes, and Steller sea lions filled the air. There were even horned and tufted puffins paddling with pigeon guillemots near the ship. As National Geographic Quest continued north around Gloomy Knob, mountain goats were spotted lining the ridgeline. The morning was capped off by a 15-minute interaction with a mother coastal brown bear and her two-year-old cubs, followed by a brief black bear sighting on Composite Island.

Following a delightful lunch, guests became keenly aware they were getting closer to a glacier as multiple chunks of floating ice created a path to our destination. Margerie Glacier awed everyone onboard with her enormity, as they spent time listening to a symphony of popping and cracking that brought multiple calving events. Paulette Moreno went on to explain the Tlingit belief that when a glacier calves, it is bowing to its visitors as a sign of respect. Guests agreed the Margerie Glacier most certainly deserved our respect and admiration. To conclude the afternoon, we cruised by Lamplugh and Reid glaciers, as well as the blows of multiple humpback whales that make Glacier Bay their summer home. Gathered on the bow of the ship, multiple conversations among guests centered on the desire to hopefully return to this majestic and special national park.

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About the Author

Alisha Lindsey

Alisha Lindsey

About the Photographer

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.

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