Friday, July 15, 2005

Check Puffins Off the List

We had decided that if it was nice this morning we were going on a boat tour. Well the sun was shining and the sky was clear and there was room on the “Captains Choice Tour” so off we went. This time the Werners did not stay behind to do laundry. The Captains Choice Tour means the captain decides where he wants to go based on weather, where the birds and sea mammals are and the mood he is in. We had a wonderful time. We saw tufted puffins, horned puffins, common murres, pigeon guillemots, bald eagles, cormorants, sea otters, harbour seals, stellar sea lions, porpoises and humpback whales. Ed was very happy to see the puffins as one of his goals for the past couple of years was to photograph puffins. We were amazed at how fast the puffins could fly. The sea otters are adorable, they lie on their backs and float around – except for the one we saw munching on a puffin! We saw humpback whales three times and were lucky to see a total of five whales. They are magnificent creatures and were as long as our boat. Porpoises are fun loving animals. The captain had to drive the boat fairly fast so the porpoises would stay and play with us. When another boat entered the area the porpoises deserted our boat and headed off to play with the new boat. We also visited two glaciers. One of the glaciers ended in the water so we were able to see it “calving” (calving is when chunks of ice fall off of the glacier and land in the water making baby icebergs). The calving was particularly interesting. The ice made a thunderous noise as it fell into the water, and at times, when the boat had drifted away from the glacier, you still heard the thunder even if you missed seeing the ice fall. The water around the boat was full a small icebergs. Margaret said the trip was great except for the last fifteen minutes. I think that had something to do with the water that splashed over the side of the boat and left her sitting in a puddle of water. Lucky for me I had just moved to the bow of the boat!

Another correction to the blog. In the entry of July 7 I indicated that the Ruth glacier was 32 miles deep. That should be 32 miles LONG. I remembered the pilot mentioning 32 miles but as it has been pointed out to me it couldn’t have been the depth of the glacier. She did say that if the glacier was removed from the area around Mt. McKinley that it would be deeper than the Grand Canyon. Some days the proof reader just isn’t doing his job! (note from Proof reader... Job posting, proofer reader position available, please email me)

The first view of a glacier from the boat, note the dark lines of stone where these two glacier flows merge

Harbour seals on a small island

a closeup view of a balded eagle

The three archs

Yes... Finally, good views Horned Puffins

Note the boat (at least a 35 ft) at base of the glacier, this one is about 400 ft high

Some of the ice flow from the glacier

Dolphins playing in the wake of the bow

Puffins in flight

Puffin in takeoff mode

An almost mature male sea lion

more seal lions

Tuffed puffins

Common murres

A hump back wale heading back down, now you see 'em

Then you don't

A sea otter in their most common position, resting on their backs

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