Jul 26, 2019 - National Geographic Venture
We started a wonderful day a bit earlier than usual in order to take full advantage of the very special place we are currently in, Glacier Bay National Park. Located in the northern part of Southeast Alaska, Glacier Bay is a truly unique, wild and marvelous place; a land of change and resilience, where glaciers and towering mountains surround a great abundance of wildlife. In order to better understand and appreciate our environment, a national park ranger came onboard and traveled with us the entire day. The ranger provided fascinating stories and explained the natural processes that took place and is still ongoing here.
Our first stop, the small South Marble Island, proved to be a wildlife hotspot. Many marine bird species call South Marble home, and we were able to see common murres, black-legged kittiwakes, and black oystercatchers together with glaucous-winged gulls, bald eagles and everyone’s favorite, the tufted puffin. Birds were not the only creatures spotted, and certainly not the noisiest! A large number of Steller sea lions were scattered throughout the island and we had an excellent opportunity to watch the largest sea lion species in the world in action. Their roars dominated the area, and at times did not let us hear the nearby bird calls. Through this cacophony, we suddenly heard a different call, one familiar from our expeditions farther South in Mexico’s Sea of Cortez: the unmistakable bark of a California sea lion! Indeed, we discovered a single individual male among his much, much larger cousins, a straggler that took his summer vacation a bit too far North.
National Geographic Venture continued her journey north toward the end of the bay and entered the protected Tidal Inlet where we were able to get a very good view of a big male brown bear. A little while later, we spotted some more brown bears walking along the beach, and a sow with her two cubs. We watched them as they climbed a steep cliff and marveled at the ease and confidence of their movements. Not long after, we discovered a number of mountain goats resting and grazing the steel-gray rock faces of Gloomy Knob, followed by the discovery of a solitary male killer whale patrolling the waters of the bay. What a privilege to being able to admire such magnificent animals in the wild!
Eventually we reached the northernmost part of the bay, and spent time admiring the magnificent Margerie and Grand Pacific Glaciers before heading back south out of the park, having enjoyed a thoroughly memorable day.
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