Today I made my second journey into Kenai Fjords National Park in as many days…. this time aboard the Glacier Express on a nature cruise. It was an unbelievably beautiful day! The clouds have parted and the sky is super blue! A wonderful day to be on the the water! I took a similar cruise last year, but it was rainy and miserable, so I wanted to give it a second chance. I had been really worried about the weather, and they have been too. They cancelled the cruise on Sunday due to weather and yesterday there were apparently eight foot swells… but luckily I couldn’t have asked for a better day. The weather and the sights!
I went with Major Marine Tours on the advice of my girls at Salmonberry Tours, and I would highly recommend them to anyone! They have a national park ranger on board so the commentary was top notch. I learned so much! They also had a yummy lunch of prime rib and Copper River Silver salmon! Yummy!
So, even the park ranger and the captain were excited about how much wildlife we saw! We saw a pod of orcas, several humpback whales, a fin whale, steller sea lions, a raft of sea otters, harbor seals, Dall’s porpoises, pink salmon jumping out of the water, puffins, cormorants, and lots and lots of other birds! The humpback whales were amazing! They were so quiet gliding and rolling in the water. You would hear the puff of their blowhole and then see the roll of their back. Two of them swam right up to and then right under the boat. It was amazing! The porpoises were so much fun! They look like little orcas and they had a blast playing in the wake of the bow of the boat.
We sailed right up to Holgate Glacier and were dwarfed by the size of it! This glacier is what you think of when you think of a glacier… huge and blue. The ranger said that he hoped we would experience the glacier with all of our senses: we would feel the cold, see the colors, hear the creaking and popping, smell the freshness of the air, and maybe taste the ice (they did bring a chunk that was floating into the boat and served ice cubes from it with drinks). He was right… was a full sensory experience. The glacier was also “very active” today as he described. We got to see several calving incidents and one was a pretty good sized one.
Here are some things I learned today:
- Glaciers are technically rivers of ice.
- Glacial ice is essentially metamorphic ice.
- Puffins never come to land except at breeding time and they can dive 20o feet under water!
- Fin whales are the second largest animal on earth!
- Sea otters don’t have blubber to keep them warm, instead they rely on their dense fur.
- While Dall’s porpoises like to play in the bow wakes – they also have short attention spans and won’t stay long!
I have some videos to share, but my internet connection isn’t strong enough here to load them. I’ll try to add them in later.