We started our day surrounded by fog and a garden of ice. We visited the ice fields at the mouth of Le Conte Glacier’s fjord. Le Conte Glacier is the southernmost tidewater glacier (glacier that meets the ocean) in North America. Cruising by Zodiac allowed us to approach massive icebergs that have calved from the glacier front and floated down the fjord until they became grounded on the underlying seafloor. The lack of wind created a beautiful glassy surface on the water, allowing for some stunning photo opportunities. We were also joined by a myriad of ocean critters, including harbor seals, bald eagles, and marbled murrelets.
In the afternoon we stopped off in the town of Petersburg, well known for its Norwegian heritage and fishing community. Home to some 3,000 Alaskans, fishing employs more than a third of the entire city’s population! Petersburg is Alaska’s sixth largest port, and over 600 commercial fishing vessels can be found in and about the harbor. In one year, this port can bring in over $30 million in fishing-related revenue. The life found in the town and around the docks is welcoming and beautiful.
But wait! There’s more! Around 10 p.m. a soft voice came over the PA system announcing that our ship had found a pod of orcas! Everyone jumped out of bed and out of showers to stand on the bow in their assorted evening fashions to enjoy a wonderful pod of approximately seven orcas gracefully swimming in the dusky light. What a way to end our day!