"In every walk with nature one receives more than he seeks."
John Muir

Monday, August 29, 2011

Prince William Sound Sights

Excited for our trip out into the Prince William Sound,
we dressed warmly and boarded the
Stan Stevens ship for our 9-hour cruise.
It was cool and foggy in the mountains surrounding the harbor.

There were lots of eagles in the harbor.
We saw them fly overhead and perch in the tall trees along the water.

The Port of Valdez, where we watched the large tankers filling with oil,
is the exact point where that 800 mile pipeline ends.
There are 3 areas for ships to be filling simultaneously.
The fuel you are using in your home and car right now may very well
have come from this place.

But these lazy old seals don't give a care about the tankers or fuel.
They enjoyed lounging on the buoys and barely raised their heads
as we sailed by.

Hours later we drew close to the glacier, recognized by the large chunks of ice
floating by. The seals and gull looked up to check us out and then lay back down.
A few slid off the ice into the cold (brrrrr) waters.
Those big chunks of ice banged against and under the ship and I had some
fleeting thoughts of the Titanic--!

The personality of the sea otters was charming.
They were really interested in us and the boat.
The otters don't have the fat that the ice-lying seals have and need to
keep moving in the cold waters, so they roll often-a total 360 turn.
Some of the mothers held a baby on their chest with little front flippers.
When they roll, I wonder if their babies first get a chance to hold their breath.

The Steller Sea Lions lounging on rocks and roaring at one another.
The roars were fierce and sounded like 4-legged lions.
They eat at night and just hang around and growl during the day,
much to our entertainment.

The blue of these waters were stunning!
The Caribbean waters are also very blue, but not quite this shade.
We knew the glacier was very near.

Our Captain turned off the motor and we sat silently, only 1/4 mile away
from the Meares Glacier. An advancing glacier, it protrudes 250-300 feet above the water
and another 150 feet below.
In the quiet, we heard rumbles and cracks that sounded like loud thunder
as the ice shifted and moved. We also saw some big chunks of ice break away and splash into the water, an action known as "calving".
Glacial ice is a dazzling blue because the water molecule absorbs all of the colors in the spectrum except the blue.

One of the shipmates scooped up a chunk of glacial ice that could be 1,000's of years old.
I held on to it happily, not minding that it was freezing my fingers.
If we look cold, we were! After all, we were next to that giant wall of ice.
I wish I had pictures of all the amazing wildlife we saw, but just couldn't do it.
I can tell you that we also viewed little puffins and huge humpback whales.
It was a day of marvelous adventures!

1 comment:

  1. Such a difference in Texas/Alaska weather! carol e