Saturday, August 1, 2009

Prince William Sound

We cruised the Prince William Sound on the last day of July. It is amazing how tired we were, when the only thing we did all day was sit and watch animals, birds, fish and mountains. Brenda will post a sampling of the photographs on her albums.

The final stop of the trip was Columbia glacier. We could not get closer than 7 miles because the approach is choked with icebergs – thousand upon thousands of them. Many were much larger than our boat. Captain Fred, who kept a running monologue going for the entire trip (my ears were as sore as my butt), explained that the Columbia has gone through a period of receding, but was now stable. His explanation was that the earthquake of 1964 in Valdez (9.2 for 4 minutes, and totally destroyed the old Valdez) had introduced some cracks which, in the late 1970s as that portion of the glacier reached the water, resulted in increased fragmenting of the glacier into the sea. Anyway, the glacier is now again stable – growing at the same rate it looses parts into the water. By the way, there are many glaciers in Alaska that are growing! Imagine that – in spite of global warming.

We saw several varieties of gulls, bald eagles, Pigeon Guillemot, Kittlitz's Murrelets, and both Horned and Tufted Puffins. The last four were new birds to us.

Of course, we saw whales. The only species we saw was Humpbacked, but we identified three different individuals. You can tell them apart by the coloring of their tails – I bet you didn't know that. There were lots of sea lions (which I photographed) and a few sea otters (of which I could not get a good picture). At one time during the cruise, we were totally surrounded by Dall's Porpoises. Getting a picture of one out of the water was almost impossible. Unlike our Gulf Coast porpoise, this one resembles a miniature Orca whale.

A great day, but we were plenty tired when we got home. Fortunately, I had purchased some Halibut that morning and we didn't have to go out to eat. Halibut fried up in a Cajun corn meal batter is pretty tasty.

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