Dundas Bay, Glacier Bay National Park

Jul 25, 2019 - National Geographic Sea Lion


National Geographic Sea Lion entered Dundas Bay just before breakfast. We arrived in heavy fog, but it dissipated quickly and soon gave us a great view of a beautiful bay surrounded by forested mountains. This is where we spent the day, and everyone had lots of options to choose from on how they wanted to spend their time. Dundas Bay is a wilderness area within the confines of Glacier Bay National Park. It is a real treat for us to get permits to utilize this region.

The naturalists guided four different hikes to explore the shorelines, meadows, and forest edges on the eastern side of the bay, and there was plenty to see. On the sandy beach, which was especially large with a midday low tide, we had fun finding seashells, shed crab carapaces, sea urchin tests, barnacle-covered rocks, driftwood, and different species of algae. However, the most exciting aspect of the shoreline was an impressive collection of animal tracks and footprints. It was fun trying to differentiate wolf tracks from otter tracks, marveling at the deep moose prints, and trying to follow enormous bears prints in the sand. Our hikes brought us along the water’s edge, and to the rim of the dense forest, where we had the chance to push a short distance into the tightly spaced trees. Once inside, it wasn’t so intimidating, because the ground was fairly open, again finding bear trails to follow in order to make our way around to the great meadow fronting the forest.

The meadow was filled with colorful plants, many of which were in bloom, but most importantly the ground cover consisted primarily of strawberry plants with plenty of small, delicious berries. It was hard to resist sampling, even though we knew the bears need them more than we do. Bear signs were everywhere, including footprints, trails, scat, so we made a point to be intentionally noisy as we moved around. We really hoped to see bears but were not too keen about running into one of them in these parts.

At the same time some were hiking, others went kayaking to enjoy the scenery at their own pace. All the kayakers encountered sea otters and at least some also saw river otters along the shore. In addition, many of us explored the bay by way of expedition watercraft, which took us much further afield to see rafts of sea otters, and some even saw a brown bear foraging for berries. With the bear sighting in mind when we lifted the anchor, our vessel immediately headed around the point to the region where the bear was sighted. Fortunately, we managed to find it again, though it paid no attention to us and slowly ambled along the rocky shore of Point Wimbledon on the western side of Dundas Bay, and remaining in our view for about a half hour, which allowed for some truly choice photography.

The day finished with a visit by Kim Heacox, a well-known Alaskan who lives in Gustavus near the mouth of Glacier Bay National Park. Kim is a successful author, a regular National Geographic contributor, a part-time Lindblad Expeditions staff member, and a talented singer-songwriter. He entertained us in the lounge after dinner with stories about Alaska and John Muir, and even performed a few of his songs on guitar.

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About the Author

Tom Ritchie

Naturalist

Tom is a zoologist and naturalist who has worked in the field of expedition cruising almost since its inception by Lars Lindblad.  Growing up near the Everglades allowed him to spend his youth exploring the swamps, marshes, forests, and reef systems of South Florida, a perfect training ground for his life with Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic.

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