Glacier Bay wildlife

Sunday 31st July. By Jodie.

We’re paddling around in Bartlett Cove for the day because of the humpback whales. They are particularly active in the cove at the moment. Researchers have identified over 70 individual whales in the area so far this season, an unprecedented number, and there are typically 10-15 whales in the cove at any one time. All boats, including kayaks, are supposed to stay a quarter mile from the whales, but it’s impossible, they pop up anywhere! We are camping at the National Park headquarters here in Bartlett Cove for two nights, right near the beach. We can hear the whales constantly. One morning we wake at 4am to the sound of whales breaching. They make a really loud splash as they hit the water. Sometimes they loll near the surface waving at us with their fins. Apparently the researchers identify the whales by their uniquely marked fins, but it seems to us they make unique “blowing” sounds. After 2 days we can already recognize several of the whales by sound.

We’re paddling up Muir Inlet when Paul points out a “little whale” in the distance. We watch, and realize it’s a porpoise. There are six or more in sight of our kayaks for a few miles.

The weather’s not great, so we’re paddling in the more protected Wachusset Inlet for the day. A cute seal is following us, looking curious, peering with big seal eyes and swimming smoothly in our wake. Most days we are accompanied at some point by a seal or porpoises.

We’re looking for a potential campsite when we see two moose at the water’s edge, mother and baby moose. We stop, floating and watching quietly. The mother seems to sense us but can’t figure out where or what we are. She’s moving along the shoreline towards and right past us, then off into the forest, baby following behind. A really cool moose sighting.

A hummingbird!

Salmon keep jumping out of the water. They are very energetic. Sometimes right beside our boats. I reckon there’s a fair chance one could land in the boat and we will have salmon for dinner. They are so big and they jump so high out of the water, again and again. It makes me laugh every time.

There are mountain goats way up high on the cliffs above us.

We never imagined we would see a wolverine. He’s known to be elusive and wild. But at our Riggs glacier campsite, Paul spots a wolverine bounding around on the shoreline. A wolverine!

We’re paddling towards the beach so we can stop for a cup of tea when we see a grizzly bear walking along the shoreline. We drift in closer to watch. She has a cub! No, there are two little ones. Then, when we get closer we see there are three bear cubs. The mother looks enormous, the babies small and cute. She’s casually turning over rocks on the shoreline. She sees us, pauses, and then continues unperturbed. We’re floating just off shore in our kayaks. She meanders up a hill and onto a grassy area, babies scrambling along behind. We watch for a while, then paddle on to find a new place to break for tea.

In Scidmore Bay we’re back in whale territory. The two days we spend here are the best yet for whale viewing. We are paddling with whales alongside us. We are watching whales from our tent on the beach. We wake at 2am to a whale breaching and slapping its fin on the water. I look out and it’s dark but I can just see the white splash of water as it breaches again. Sigh, back to sleep now.

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About paulandjodie

Our first blog, five star tent, was a six month project in parallel with a journey on foot and by kayak from Alaska to Patagonia. Now back to real life, Jodie is inspired to start blogging again, just a little bit, with photo theme hop.
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