Jun 20, 2019 - National Geographic Quest
Glacier Bay National Park is a remarkable area of wilderness, 3.3 million protected acres in the northern region of Southeast Alaska. National Geographic Quest cruised into the park’s Bartlett Cove dock early in the morning to pick up the cultural interpreter and park ranger who would be accompanying us for the day.
The day started with fantastic weather and a visit to South Marble Island, a small outcropping in the southern region of Glacier Bay absolutely riddled with Steller sealions. This species, known alternatively as the northern sea lion, is the northernmost and largest species of sea lion on the planet. With males reaching weights up to 2,000 lbs., those less successful reproducers will stay in adolescent male groups throughout the summer and wait for better fortunes for mating next season.
Two species of puffin live in this ocean as well: the tufted puffin and the horned puffin. The tufted puffin finds space around Marble Island frequently, but the horned puffin is more difficult to spot. The guests of National Geographic Quest were lucky enough to spot both species today, spending their day feeding around South Marble Island.
The next stop was on a pebbly beach, where the naturalists right away found the prize wildlife of Glacier Bay – the coastal brown bear! Three patrolled the beach, turning over rocks at low tide to find tasty snacks. Bears take full advantage of the low water levels by feeding on sessile crustaceans and mollusks, those who cannot run away but must rely on their hardened outer shells to protect them from predation.
Gloomy Knob was our next destination, a rounded mountainous rock where critters abound. From mountain goats, to cormorants, many land- and ocean-based creatures call this place home. From Gloomy Knob, we cruised on, to seek out the namesake of our beautiful park. The glaciers in this park used to extend all the way out to the bay where Bartlett Cove now sits. Though there are still tidewater glaciers in Glacier Bay National Park, the rivers of ice are in severe retreat.
The beauty of Glacier Bay National Park is stunning and unforgettable. Few people have the luxury of viewing this park on such a sunny, glorious day, and it is surely an experience that those onboard this voyage will not forget.
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