We woke up to today to sculptures of ice floating down the mirror-still water of a mist filled fjord as we proceeded towards Johns Hopkins Glacier. The air was crisp and still holding only a slight chill. The dramatic landscape unfolded in front of us, showcasing countless waterfalls spilling from the high walls of the fjord and complex structures of ice at the face of the glacier. Kittiwakes streamed by silently in the morning air as seals gave us a curious glance.
Spending the day in Glacier Bay National Park is always an anticipated highlight of our voyages. This incredible location has so much to offer, as our full schedule showed. Shortly after our early morning glacier, we made way to view our late morning glacier at the northern extent of Glacier Bay. The cool air and increasing fog just added to the mystique of this very special place.
Throughout the day we switched between viewing wildlife, listening to presentations, and dining with our friends, new and old, aboard the National Geographic Quest. A mother and cub brown bear gave us quick looks as they skirted from the beach into the forest. Mountain goats effortlessly traversed the impossibly steep walls of Gloomy Knob. Dazzling flocks of seabirds painted lines around the ship in Russel Cut. Rafts of sea otters paddled along as the fog lifted from the azure waters. Glacier Bay does not disappoint.
Approaching South Marble Island, a breeding location for many seabirds and a haul-out spot for Steller sea lions, life was abundant. The sea lions were present in loud playful groups, and the birds showed themselves in large quantities and diversity. As we were starting to depart, a pod of killer whales came towards the island. Four individuals, including a male with a distinct tall dorsal fin, began to tour the island and the sea lion haul-outs. The pinnipeds scrambled to get to high ground as the tide took their crowded refuge. Several naturalists believe that the whales were successful in hunting sea lions during our prolonged stay at the island. Observing killer whales hunt is a rare opportunity, so we were all glued to the bow taking in the dramatic scene unfolding in front of us.
As we began to peel away from the island and share the excitement of what we had just witnessed, puffins flew about and several more brown bears worked their way along the shore. This was the kind of day that will live on in story for years after it ends; another amazing day in Alaska.