La Conte Glacier and Petersburg

May 27, 2019 - National Geographic Sea Lion


Sunlight, wildlife, and ice sculptures filled our morning with the natural beauty that is Southeast Alaska. Mountain goats scaled nearby cliffs in La Conte Bay, including a mother with her two white and fluffy kids confidently navigating the rock face behind her. La Conte glacier is a tidewater glacier, which means its terminus reaches the sea. We soaked in the views all around us, admired pointy nunataks that survived the carving of glacial ice long ago and even brought hunks of old glacial ice into our own Zodiacs for a firsthand look. Harbor seals kept a watchful eye, occasionally popping out of the water for a better view. All in all, a really fantastic morning to be in the sunshine and surrounded by glacial ice.

This afternoon, our feet hit land as we took to the fishing town of Petersburg. Norwegian Peter Buschmann founded this town at the close of the 19th century, when he purchased 40 acres and started the process of building the necessary structures to support commercial fishing operations in the area. Peter Buschmann chose this area on the northern end of Mitkof Island for its access to prime fishing for Pacific salmon and halibut, as well as its close proximity to La Conte Glacier and the ice it provides. The first pack of salmon was put up in 1900 and Petersburg was incorporated as a town in 1910.

Today felt almost as Alaskan as it gets. Staring in awe at the scenic fjords, admiring glaciers and icebergs, eating Dungeness crab for dinner, and wandering around old fishing towns where the streets are named after old fishing boats and everyone is wearing their Xtra Tuff boots.

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About the Author

Emily Pickering

Naturalist/Expedition Diver

Emily was raised by two veterinarians in the mountains of Central Oregon, where she spent much of her time on the back of a horse dreaming about the sea. Her fascination was solidified by visits to the Oregon Coast Aquarium and summers spent gazing into tide pools and listening for killer whales off the coast of British Colombia.  

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