LeConte Bay & Petersburg

Jun 24, 2019 - National Geographic Sea Lion


Today was one of transition and contrast of weather and place.  The morning brought gray skies and chilly boat tours of LeConte Bay, near the terminus of LeConte Glacier, the southernmost tidewater glacier in the northern hemisphere.  One of the fastest flowing glaciers in the world, it discharges large pieces of clear, sculpted ice that are grounded on a series of moraines, established along this fjord over the last 2000 years as the glacier ebbed and flowed.

Lunchtime steaming chili broke our morning chill as we transited away from the mainland and across Frederick Sound.  We soon entered the Wrangell Narrows to tie up at the pier in Petersburg, a small fishing community on Mitkof Island.  The clouds also began to break up, and we were under sunny skies and warm temperature by mid-afternoon. Petersburg does not show the Russian heritage prevalent on so many of the Southeast Alaska islands, but rather embraces its’ early 20th Century Norwegian history, starting with logging, then fishing, and when combined with the abundant nearby glacier ice the town became a pioneer for shipping fresh fish to the lower 48.  We had a chance to visit forest, muskeg, and intertidal areas, and additionally had the options to go flightseeing or simply explore the town.  As the day wrapped up with a beautiful sunset, there was a short-lived sighting of a bear on the shore, and even a humpback whale cruising in front of the bow of National Geographic Sea Lion.

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About the Author

Robert Edwards

Naturalist

Growing up in the Appalachian foothills of the Garden State, Rob instinctively knew it made a lot more sense to head over the hill into the fields, forests, lakes, and streams behind his house, rather than down the road to the shopping mall in front of it. The natural world piqued the inherent curiosity in all of us and set his life course based on these questions: how does the world work, and how do we as humans fit into it?  

About the Photographer

Sarah Keefer

Naturalist

Sarah’s fondest memories of nature and wildlife encounters are ones she has shared with friends- especially when those experiences involve birding on the bow of a ship! She is captivated by the wonders of the natural world, and it was the lure of expansive wilderness and exotic destinations that inspired her to study Wildlife Biology at both the University of Alaska Fairbanks and the University of Hawaii Honolulu. First partial to mammalian studies, it wasn’t until her first season as a field naturalist in Southeast Alaska that she truly appreciated the value of watching birds, and what they could teach us about patience, integrity and hope.

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