Endicott Arm | Dawes Glacier | Tracy Arm-Fords Terror Wilderness

Jun 30, 2019 - National Geographic Quest


The first day in Alaska did not disappoint. After a night spent in transit from Juneau towards  Endicott Arm, everyone awoke to humpback whales off the starboard side of the ship. Not a bad way to start our week in Southeast Alaska. Making our way up the Endicott Arm, the steep walls of the fjord began to tower over us. Waterfalls and green vegetation lined the walls as we crept in on Dawes Glacier. Rounding the last bend in the arm, the whole of Dawes Glacier comes into distant view.

To get a closer look, we boarded Zodiacs and headed further up the arm towards the glacier. Harbor seals lay lackadaisically on the ice soaking up the midday sun as we pass by. As the Zodiac engine slows, the popping sound of the ice fills the air. Weaving our way through the ice field, the deceptive size of the glacier (immense) becomes more apparent. We find ourselves staring at the massive face of Dawes Glacier at the end of the fjord. Dawes is a tide-water glacier, calving ice straight into the seawater. We sit and wait patiently to catch a glimpse of the glacier calving into the water. It does not take long to witness the sight we came for. A large slab of ice falls from the face of the glacier in what appears to be slow motion. Creating a huge explosion of upturned water, the sound of the impact arriving seconds later. With big frozen smiles on their face, the group made its way back to the ship.

The first day at sea ended in the same way that it began. Humpback whales were spotted off the starboard side of the ship as we made our way out of the mouth of the Endicott Arm. The whales put on a show for us as we finished our dinner, the flukes of the whales easily visible against the golden sunset backdrop. A great way to end our first day in Southeast Alaska.

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About the Author

Brandon Berry

Naturalist/Expedition Diver

Born and raised in California, Brandon has always been close to the ocean. He has made a career as an environmental scientist with years of experience in environmental research and consulting. The majority of his time is spent in the field whether it be on, in, or under the water. He began SCUBA diving at the age of 18, and it has remained an important part of his life ever since. He began diving professionally after receiving his divemaster certification in Thailand. Looking to combine his passion for diving with his career in environmental science, he became an AAUS certified research diver. His work has taken him from warm tropical reefs to the brisk waters of the Pacific.

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