LeConte Bay, Petersburg

Jul 23, 2019 - National Geographic Venture


This was a day of diversity, with weather ranging from fog to sun to hail, and outings from sea to land to sky. We started with an early morning Zodiac outing in LeConte Bay, a scenic spot with numerous icebergs that have traveled down from LeConte Glacier which lies at the head of the bay. People from the nearby town of Petersburg once collected ice from this bay, hauling it to the town to use in the cannery. As one of the most actively retreating glaciers, LeConte continues to produce a significant amount of icebergs. We cruised amidst the ice, with gulls, murrelets, and the occasional harbor seal for company. Fog shrouded National Geographic Venture as the first round of Zodiacs returned, but all made it back without a problem, GPS in hand.

After brunch, a talk on the coastal temperate rainforest informed us about the ecology, flora, and fauna of the surrounding forests. This biome comprises only two percent of the world’s forests and is a unique and lush environment, dominated by Sitka spruce and western hemlock.

Petersburg was the setting for our afternoon activities, a bustling little town on the edge of Mitkof Island. There we had a variety of options, including the chance to explore a prime example of a temperate rainforest, with a walk through the forest to a muskeg, a bog with stunted shore pines. The bog plants of the muskeg include the insectivorous sundew, a small but brilliant red plant nestled in the sphagnum moss. The afternoon included an opportunity for a photo outing, as well as a walk along the dock to learn more about the fishing and crabbing that takes place in the harbor. Flightseeing was another option, and several people took the opportunity to see Southeast Alaska’s mountains and glaciers from the air.

Recap included an otter demonstration of how to eat a crab, whether you are otter or human. Afterwards, we had the chance to savor local Dungeness crab at a delicious and wonderfully messy crab feast, a fun and filling end to the day.

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About the Author

Robin Patten

Naturalist

The natural world has always been central to Robin’s life. At an early age, she was out exploring the Montana backcountry, learning natural history through experience. She went on to earn a Ph.D. in landscape ecology from Colorado State University, followed by an M.S. in Environmental Writing from the University of Montana and a Post-Graduate Diploma from Scotland’s Centre for Mountain Studies. Her studies included environmental history and cultural geography, and her work often focuses on the interactions between cultures and landscapes. Robin still lives in Montana, writing and working from a small cabin near Yellowstone National Park.

About the Videographer

Eric Barnes

Video Chronicler

Eric is a native of Southern California and has been taking pictures for as long as he can remember.  He made a career as a news photographer, working for local and national news agencies.  As a photojournalist, Eric has documented some of the most important news events both nationally and around the world.  He has covered everything from the tsunami in Thailand to the war in Afghanistan and countless other compelling stories.

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