You might think this post is going to be about whales. You might be right – but keep reading, because there will be lots more than whales happening this afternoon.
We left Bartlett Cove and headed north to get deeper into Glacier Bay. Our first destination was South Marble Island, where there is another large haul-out of Steller Sea Lions. The scenery as we progressed became filled with snow covered mountains, and we could even see a glacier.
As we came upon Marble Island, it was easy to find the Steller Sea Lions. This is also a refuge for Pigeon Guillemots – these are the small birds you can (barely) see in some of the photos that follow. People are not allowed to land on South Marble Island, as it’s protected for both the birds and the seals.
Those darn humpbacks kept distracting us as we were trying to find the Steller Sea Lions …
Here they are – this is what we are searching for; there are more Steller Sea Lions on the main island as well. This group was active, with lots of jumping in and out of the water.
There were a squillion gulls on the island, nesting and just taking life easy. All of a sudden the air was filled with loud squawking and flapping wing noises. The guardian gulls went after a mischievous juvenile bald eagle, and chased him away, squawking all the time:
We saw several bald eagles relaxing on the beach:
Puffins, Puffins, Puffins – as we were watching the Steller Sea Lions, the gulls, and a few whales, we happened to notice the puffins swimming about 50 ft off the starboard side. There weren’t a lot of them, but we saw maybe 5 or 6 swimming near the ship. I planted myself on the bench by the railing, and watched their antics off and on for an hour, snapping lots of photos (people probably thought I was nuts). I did get some photos of the Tufted Puffins to share – harder than it might sound, since they are only about 15 inches long. This was our first time seeing puffins and it was exciting!
The puffins mostly just swam along in pairs, occasionally dunking for dinner. The ones who are taking flight can fly up to 50 mph, but often fly just short distances not far off the water when looking for fish. This hour of just slowly cruising around, watching the puffins and more, was one of my favorite times during the whole week.
Those pesky humpbacks just kept popping up everywhere. Didn’t they know we had other things to look at? (Note – we never got complacent about seeing the whales.)
And, the Holland America Volendam was stalking us throughout the day. They didn’t linger in one place like we did, but their passengers could still enjoy the views and some of the wildlife sightings.
We circled around the island, and said goodbye to the Steller Sea Lions as we continued on:
Whew – this is enough for now. And to think, all of the activity shown above took place in 2 hours, starting at about 1:15pm. It’s possible we’ll have some more action this afternoon as we uncruise to Margerie Glacier, but it’s hard to see how we can top the day we’ve had so far.