Glacier Bay National Park

Jul 31, 2019 - National Geographic Venture


We could not have woken to better conditions. The Fairweather Mountains were alight in the morning sun as we sailed north in calm seas. The brisk air was a lovely welcome to our day in Glacier Bay National Park, a highlight of the trip we were all looking forward to. On our voyage through this National Park, our special guests and guides were a National Park Ranger and a T’lingit Cultural Interpreter.

Our first stop was South Marble Island. After Ranger Colleen introduced us to the animals we might see, we crept close enough to the island to hear the sounds of the Steller sea lions. These charismatic mammals climbed up the low-lying rocks and competed for space with each other to our entertainment. The other main inhabitants to the island were the birds. Puffins, gulls, kittiwakes, cormorants, murres, and guillemots circled around the ship and perched throughout the steep rock faces. To our particular delight we saw three horned puffins, a species our ranger said we would be lucky to find.

We slowly sailed up the bay searching for wildlife. At Gloomy Knob we tried our luck at pointing out mountain goats. These animals were walking through the intimidating terrain with ease to our amazement. In between goats we even spotted a hoary marmot, not something we see every trip! At the top of the bay was Margerie Glacier. This massive river of ice helped carve the landscape we spent our day in. Greeting us soon after our arrival was a massive shooter, and a piece of ice calving from the submerged face of the glacier. These sights left us in awe and was truly remarkable to see.

Not to be outdone by the glacier, our global explorers created their own ice-cream glacier while we sailed south. We spent some time with a brown bear making its way along the shore before we had to say goodbye to our guests for the day. It was an absolutely lovely day in a very special place.

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About the Author

Steve Backus

Naturalist

Born in the mountains of East Tennessee, it was easy for Steve to fall in love with the wonderful natural environment that surrounded him. What started as a childhood passion to scan the creeks and ponds for all they would reveal evolved into a studied desire to understand the environments around us.

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