More Glacier Bay Treats

The glaciers that give this National Park its name are in the north end of the bay, but there is so much to see on the journey up to the ice!

The sea otters are some of the most adorable critters, especially when they’re clutching their little pups. But they’re not popular with fishermen since they have no natural predators and they’re voracious eaters. They will eat everything in sight, wiping out the crabs and other bottom creatures, until the food is gone and they move on to another area. At some point, their numbers will overwhelm the available food sources and their population will crash. But yes, they are really cute.

We spotted a number of bears, and because it was early in the season, it was mating time. Males follow females that they’re interested in, and we saw several pairs of persistent males and uninterested females. This male was steadily pursuing his love interest, and she kept trotting and eventually running away from him.

We spotted three different “romantic” couples, as well as one female with a nice big second-year cub.

As we got closer to the glaciers, we started seeing harbor seals resting on floating ice. As it was still early in the season, the seals were giving birth so we needed to keep a big distance from them so we didn’t disturb the fragile new pups.

And finally we arrived up at the main glaciers – the Reid, Lamplugh, Johns Hopkins, Margerie, and the Grand Pacific. We’re lucky enough to be able to anchor by the Reid, giving us time to just look and listen to it for hours and hours.

What’s sad is that we can see more and more of the mountain underneath, and we’ve witnessed the very noticeable changes yearly since our first exciting visit to see it in 2014.

All the glaciers are changing so quickly – it’s like watching old friends decline, and it breaks our hearts.

We had the upper part of the bay all to ourselves one day, and we headed up to see the “show glacier” – the Margerie, that one that the cruise ships spend most of their time visiting. It’s splashy-flashy, as glaciers go, though not as blue as some of the other ones.

A little bit of calving…

We were lucky this time – we heard some cracking like thunder, then silence… then the whoosh of some bits of ice falling. The glaciers are always making noises – they’re rivers of ice that are constantly flowing down the mountain, carrying snow that fell about 200 years ago that’s now compressed into dense ice. This day, the Margerie was more active than we’ve ever seen, eventually gifting us with a nice big calving event. You’ll note that the video is quite short, because we were fairly close to the glacier’s face, and the ice-laden wave was not to be trifled with.

You can hear Jim yelling about the wave, so I had to put the camera down and get the boat moving back and angled to take the wave. Yowza!

Back to Glacier Bay

It’s our 13th trip into Glacier Bay National Park… It’s addictive.

We love the forest…

New growth on spruce trees

…the ponds with buckbean and birds and water lilies…

…and the lupine in bloom.

The music of the bay includes the groaning and barking of Steller’s sea lions (big, loud sausages on the rocks, sleek rockets in the water)…

…and the songs of the whales (having a hydrophone helps).

Two humpbacks, one diving

Gulls and kittiwakes nest on the cliffs…

…as do the puffins! They make a burrow in rock crevices to incubate their eggs, returning to the sea for the rest of the year once their chicks have fledged.

Tufted puffin outside burrow

Pelagic cormorants also like the rocky cliffs, often found near the puffin burrows as well as where we see mountain goats.

Pelagic cormorants

Speaking of mountain goats – we found a few… some relaxing, and a nanny with a kid, demonstrating their climbing prowess.

Mountain goats
“Are you keeping up okay, little one?”

There’s more to show you… Glacier Bay has so much to see, so stay tuned.