Friday, June 5, 2009

Glacier Bay National Park

At the end of May, we took the M/V Ursa Major to Glacier Bay National Park with our fearless leader (and M/V Ursa Major owner), Dr. Joyce Gauthier.

The above photo of the M/V Ursa Major skiff was taken at the base of Reid Glacier, a tidewater glacier where we anchored for one night. Emily and Terry, a friend of Joyce's, were attacked by Arctic terns, (a sometimes angry bird species), when they accidentally walked too close to a hidden nest. No one was hurt but the wrath of nesting Arctic terns should never be doubted.

Part 1 of enthusiastic humpback whale breaching. Just when we thought we couldn't top the whale antics on the last charter, this humpback whale breaching just outside Glacier Bay National Park in Inian Pass took the cake. Not only did he/she earn bonus points for sheer acrobatics and enthusiasm, but this whale breached and taillobbed (vigorous slapping on the tail) for an hour.

Part 2 of enthusiastic humpback whale breaching.

Part 3 of enthusiastic humpback whale breaching.

Part 4 of enthusiastic humpback whale breaching.

Onto brown bears... This particular bear was caught him in the middle of barnacle tasting on the beach. Note the exposed tongue.

The brown bear kept turning over rocks in his continuing search for barnacles and seaweed.

Yes, we were really this close to the brown bear.... in a motorized skiff.... with a telephoto lens....

Glacier Bay National Park is also the home to numerous Stellar (or Northern) sea lions. This particular group was found swimming just off a Stellar sea lion rookery.

This juvenile Stellar sea lion was caught doing flips just off the rookery. Note the numerous Stellar sea lions laying on the rocks.

The park is also home to the elusive, and comical, Tufted puffin. They are designated as "Tufted" because of a yellow feather tuft found at the back of their head.

We managed to get pretty close to the Tufted puffins from the M/V Ursa Major but as seen in the above photo, they can be fairly skiddish.

Gray wolves were also present within the park boundaries. This pack was out for a morning stroll on the beach.

This whitish specimen of the gray wolf was also traveling with the pack on the beach.

Harbor seals were seen throughout the park on the ice flows near calving glaciers. The glacier behind this particular harbor seal is Marjorie Glacier.

This sea otter was seen on the way to Glacier Bay National Park. He was part of a flotilla of twenty sea otters found on the west side of Chichagoff Island.

Josh in front of Marjorie Glacier. This photo was taken just prior to the glacier calving into the bay. The wake from the ice fall was felt on the M/V Ursa Major moments later.

Emily enjoying the view from the sun deck prior to anchoring at Reid Glacier.

Our friends on the M/V Ursa Major for the trip: Nancy, Terry, Joyce (fearless leader), and John.

Steak night on the boat at Reid Glacier. The glacier can be seen just behind the barbeque grill.

The view between Marjorie Glacier and Reid Glacier. The weather and visibility for the trip was spectacular for both kayaking and wildlife viewing.

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