Stretching and yawning the sleep out of our eyes, we wandered up to the bow of National Geographic Venture extra early this morning to take in stunning views of Johns Hopkins Glacier. We had traveled all the way into one of the most northern fjord arms of Glacier Bay National Park. The robust reputation of this park did not lead us astray. Massive walls of ice loomed at the end of the inlets and even let loose a tumble of ice in a thunderous boom. We spent the day navigating down-fjord while viewing coastal brown bears on the beach, whales and otters in the water, and birds aplenty. Later, we cruised by South Marble Island, where eagles, puffins, murres, gulls, and sea lions all congregate. An amazing spectacle and a true tribute to the value of our nationally protected lands.
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.