Jun 11, 2019 - National Geographic Venture
We began our day by welcoming a Glacier Bay Service Ranger and Naturalist Colleen aboard National Geographic Venture in Bartlett Cove. The morning was serene with a misty fog coating the vast and wild surroundings. Sea otters curiously greeted us by poking their heads out of the glassy bay waters as we enjoyed our morning lattes. We made our way north in Glacier Bay toward South Marble Island, where we discovered roaring Steller sea lions, tufted puffins, common murres, pigeon guillemots, glaucous-winged gulls, black-legged kittiwakes, and the rare horned puffins. South Marble Island proved to be a true wildlife hotspot with an incredible view of a humpback whale and its fluke before departing the area and heading farther north toward Margerie Glacier.
With a facing as high as 250 feet, Margerie Glacier glowed against the low hanging clouds, illuminating the flock of black-legged kittiwakes scattered across calved bergy bits and icebergs. Amongst the black-legged kittiwakes we spied a single Franklin’s gull, a rare vagrant from the Canadian Prairies. During lunch, we continued to view Margerie from the dining room after experiencing its thunderous calving, which reverberated in our chests.
After lunch, we sailed back toward the mouth of Glacier Bay but quickly came upon three brown bears in the intertidal zone within sight of Margerie Glacier. We observed the bears feeding on barnacles and mussels. We then continued through Russell Cut. In the Cut, we spotted a lone river otter and came across a huge raft of sea otters on the south side of Russell Island. Farther south along Gloomy Knob we were lucky enough to spot classic Glacier Bay inhabitants: three nanny mountain goats each with a kid in tow as they scrambled across the steep rock face through the mist and rain.
Ranger Colleen inducted a group of our Global Explorers crew into the National Park’s Junior Rangers program. A humpback whale playing and slapping its pectoral fin on the water’s surface sent us off to another delicious dinner. After a fond farewell with Ranger Colleen we sailed for Idaho Inlet overnight.
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