Under low-hanging clouds and through dense fog, National Geographic Quest made her way through the Tracy Arm Fjord system. With slow strolls past one gushing cascade after another, trees coated in a heavy, gray mist, and mountaintops that seemed to disappear into nothingness the higher we looked, we finally caught our first sight of a brilliant blue glacier face. Sitting about a half-mile from the glacier itself, our guests were in awe at the size and beauty of the Sawyer Glacier. After a few moments on the deck, we turned the ship and found a spot to float near Sawyer Island. From here, we dropped Zodiacs and ran guests up through a maze of blue-white icebergs, past a sea of curious harbor seals, and finally, to the face of the massive South Sawyer Glacier. After spending the morning among the giants of ice, we turned back again and made our way to the entrance and on to our next stop.
National Geographic Venture
Glacier Bay National Park
Glacier Bay National Park is the ancestral homeland of the Huna Tlingit clans. Covering over three million acres of land, this striking environment lends itself well to discussions about primary succession, a characteristic of temperate rainforests and glaciation. National Geographic Venture started its day with hikes and photography instruction around Bartlett Cove. The ship’s naturalists discussed various aspects of primary succession and temperate rainforests while finding baneberry, fiddleheads, and morel mushrooms. The hikes ended with observing the preserved skeleton of a whale named Snow, a humpback whale killed by a ship strike in 2001. Once all crew and guests were on board, the ship ventured farther into Glacier Bay National Park. Along the way, we observed incredible sightings of humpback whales, Steller sea lions, sea otters, tufted puffins, bald eagles, and a variety of other animals. Farther north, we passed by Gloomy Knob where guests and staff spotted mountain goats whose white fur contrasted well with the dark rocky habitat. Finally, guests and staff celebrated the end of another magical day in Southeast Alaska with cocktail hour while viewing Margerie Glacier calving. The incredible landscape of Southeast Alaska, and particularly Glacier Bay, is an awe-inspiring world that lends itself to exploration and conservation.