Wednesday 26th July, 2006
Yet more images from a day cruise around northern Prince William Sound.
Above: Columbia Glacier, the world's fastest glacier. It is
moves forward at 34m per day (lighting for a glacier!) however it is calving
more ice into the bay faster than it is moving, causing it to recede. The
face of the glacier is 5km wide and 90m tall, yet there is still 500m of
ice under the surface carving out a fjord! It stretches back an incredible
54km and since 1980 it has retreated 14km. As it retreats it will continue
to carve out an even larger deepwater fjord.
Below: Meares Glacier, one of the few advancing (but thinning)
glaciers left. Notice that there are trees right up to the edge of the advancing
glacier, but none that are near the retreating Columbia Glacier above. The
face of this glacier is about 60m high and about 1km wide. It is from this
glacier that I captured the animation of it calving ice on the previous
Above & Below: After leaving Meares Glacier and thinking about how lucky we were to see the wildlife and glacial calving two humpback whales were spotted.
Above & Below: Humpbacks can stay underwater for 8 minutes at a time, but typically surface every 4 or 5 minutes. They stayed on the surface for about a minute before diving down again and showing us their beautiful tail.
Above: After leaving the humpback whales we spotted some splashes
off in the distance. Some Dall's Porpoises swam towards the boat and playfully
danced across the bow of the boat, keeping up with us and jumping in and
out of the water. These creatures only live in the colder deep waters of
the northern Pacific.
Below: Horned Puffins are really beautiful, colourful birds
with their vibrant colours and oversize beak. They live on the open sea
except when breeding and can dive up to 80 feet to catch fish. Black feathers
on their back help hide them from flying predators while white feathers
on their belly camouflage them from fish below. A black line runs from their
eyes to the nape of their neck and their large triangular beaks are bright
yellow with a red tip. On top of that, their legs and feet are bright orange.
Here is a good close up picture of these
Above: After being satisfied that we had seen some whales (humpbacks) there was yet one more surprise - Killer Whales! Actually that term is a bit of a misnomer since they are a member of the dolphin family. A pair of Orcas where slowly making their way across Prince William Sound.
Below: Since orcas (or whales in general) are not always seen on cruises, the Alaska Marine Highway Ferry detoured for a closer look.
Above: The dorsal fin on the orcas were very large and curiously
All photos and content (except where marked) Copyright Craig McIntyre 2006.