Glacier Bay

Jul 18, 2018 - National Geographic Sea Lion

WOW what a day!

Today we explored Bartlett Cove of Glacier Bay National Park. It was an early riser morning as we left our dearly loved National Geographic Sea Lion at the dock. Not more than 5 minutes from the dock, while the safety demonstration was going on, we saw a sea otter float by on its back grooming its luxurious coat. The day unfolded with tufted and horned puffin sightings, Steller sea lions, mountain goats, bald eagles, numerous sea birds, but that was not all.

The tides were in our favor. That means that we had some of the lowest tides of the summer and they fell during the morning hours of our trip. This brought out the bears who feast in the intertidal zone on gunnels, or any other fish that hide under the rocks until the next high tide. All told we saw 24 bears! That is unheard of. Moms and cubs, brown bears, black bears, everyone feeding in the area between the high and low tides. For me, the best sighting was of 3 very thin brown bears. As we approached, the bears ran. We thought that they were just too skittish for our presence, but then the mom and one of the cubs came back down to the tidal line right in front of our boat. Meanwhile, the other cub stayed up by the brush and protested. It called to mom in an anxious and disapproving voice the entire time we were there. It stood on its hind legs and protested. It stood on all fours and called out. It yelled at its mother and sibling to no avail. We pulled away and it finally quieted down and rejoined its family having their intertidal snack.

The moving rivers of ice did not disappoint. The Margerie Glacier dropped huge pieces of ice with thundering crashes.

As we left the glacier, a bald eagle flew to an iceberg right next to our boat and stayed there while we all got close-up photos of it. Other icebergs were covered with black legged kittiwakes.

Our trip back through Glacier Bay was spotted with sea otters and pups all the way back to the dock. We visited the Tribal House in Bartlett Cove after disembarking the ship. Some took hikes through the forest then got a ride through the small town of Gustavus and back to our home, National Geographic Sea Lion. It was a fantastic day.

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About the Author

Marylou Blakeslee


For the past 20 years, Marylou Blakeslee has traveled the world sharing her love of wild places. She lectures on a number of topics from the bears and wolves of the Arctic, to the leopard seals and whales of the Antarctic, as well as the turtles and fishes of the Great Barrier Reef.

About the Photographer

Rich Kirchner

Naturalist/Certified Photo Instructor

Rich Kirchner has worked as a naturalist in Antarctica, Alaska, the Bering Sea, Baja and the High Arctic, including Greenland, the Canadian Arctic and Iceland. His 25 years as a professional wildlife photographer has granted him international publication credits included in magazines such as Geo Germany, Geo France, Natural History, Audubon, National Wildlife and Ranger Rick, as well as more than a hundred books.

About the Videographer

Julio Rodriguez

Video Chronicler

Born and raised in Ecuador, the son of Spanish and American parents, Julio developed a passion for storytelling and environmental conservation at an early age. After majoring in History at Carleton College (Minnesota), with a thesis on the Basque anti-Franco movement, he taught English in Spain and made short promotional films for an energy efficiency company in India and two environmental conservation NGOs in Greece and Galapagos. 

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