Dawes Glacier and Endicott Arm

Jul 07, 2019 - National Geographic Sea Lion

Today was our first full day of expedition on National Geographic Sea Lion and it was outstanding. We woke up early to a bright sun shining high above our ship. Even before our first cup of coffee, there were large fragments of calved ice surrounding around our vessel. As the glassy tables of glacial ice approached, we noticed each unique structure had a different story. Some thin, clear pieces resembling swans perched on flat water in the distance. Other pieces were vibrant colors of teal and turquoise with moraine lines striping through their body. And some floating ice had small groups of adult harbor seals and pups hauled out on top of them! Then, off in the distance, a black bear was spotted walking the shoreline of the Endicott Arm. So unexpected!

By 7:30 a.m., we were all outside on the bow of the ship dressed in warm jackets experiencing some of our first wildlife sightings in Alaska’s Southeast. After a hearty breakfast, we ventured out in the ice to experience the face of Dawes Glacier. We could hear her creaks and crashes as we arrived: Then came the calvings. We could not believe our eyes as ice teetered off the terminus of the glacier, falling to the watery floor below it, again and again, feeling lucky each and every time we saw it. In the afternoon, we cruised for wildlife, finding another black bear foraging on the coastline and a large group of surface-active humpback whales with a calf. The whales let us into their life, swirling their pectoral and tail fins at the surface, allowing us to listen to their world. It was an unbelievable day filled to the brim with nature and excitement in wild Alaska.

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About the Author

Christine West

Undersea Specialist

Christine was fortunate to grow up in the Pacific Northwest on the shores of the Puget Sound. After graduating from the University of Washington, she decided to pursue her love of the ocean and exploration. Her passion for marine biology has inspired her through over 4,000 scuba dives around the globe in temperate and cold-water conditions, as well as snorkeling and freediving in extraordinary habitats such as in river beds with spawning salmon, in recently de-glaciated bays and lagoons filled with ice and glacial silt and in deep blue water with large marine animals including humpback whales, hammerhead sharks and pilot whales.

About the Videographer

Julio Rodriguez

Video Chronicler

Born and raised in Ecuador, the son of Spanish and American parents, Julio developed a passion for storytelling and environmental conservation at an early age. After majoring in History at Carleton College (Minnesota), with a thesis on the Basque anti-Franco movement, he taught English in Spain and made short promotional films for an energy efficiency company in India and two environmental conservation NGOs in Greece and Galapagos. 

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