Today we explored Glacier Bay, a long and wild embayment running 65 miles into the mainland at the northwestern corner of the Alaska Panhandle. The national park, together with connecting northward parks, preserves, and wilderness in both the US and Canada, comprise a UNESCO World Heritage Site. At 25 million acres, it is one of the largest contiguous wilderness areas on the planet. Formed by repeated advances and retreats of the Grand Pacific Glacier and its tributary glaciers, which are fed by massive ice fields in the surrounding coast ranges, the bay is a terrific area for wildlife and wild landscapes.
National Geographic Venture
Glacier Bay National Park
Glacier Bay National Park is the ancestral homeland of the Huna Tlingit clans. Covering over three million acres of land, this striking environment lends itself well to discussions about primary succession, a characteristic of temperate rainforests and glaciation. National Geographic Venture started its day with hikes and photography instruction around Bartlett Cove. The ship’s naturalists discussed various aspects of primary succession and temperate rainforests while finding baneberry, fiddleheads, and morel mushrooms. The hikes ended with observing the preserved skeleton of a whale named Snow, a humpback whale killed by a ship strike in 2001. Once all crew and guests were on board, the ship ventured farther into Glacier Bay National Park. Along the way, we observed incredible sightings of humpback whales, Steller sea lions, sea otters, tufted puffins, bald eagles, and a variety of other animals. Farther north, we passed by Gloomy Knob where guests and staff spotted mountain goats whose white fur contrasted well with the dark rocky habitat. Finally, guests and staff celebrated the end of another magical day in Southeast Alaska with cocktail hour while viewing Margerie Glacier calving. The incredible landscape of Southeast Alaska, and particularly Glacier Bay, is an awe-inspiring world that lends itself to exploration and conservation.