GlacierA mass of ice that persists for many years and notably deforms and flows under the influence of gravity. and Wildlife Watching Cruise - Seward Alaska

    Seward Harbor
    Looking out of Seward Harbor toward the Pacific Ocean

    My second adventure in Seward was a morning glacier and wildlife watching cruise. The boat left the dock at 8:00am and with about 50-75 people aboard. I, of course, perched myself at the very front of the boat with both cameras in hand ready for action. We started to pull out of the harbor and I see a huge cruise ship, Radiance of the Seas, docked at the harbor. Many cruise ships dock here in Seward and provide day trips inland.

    Cruise Ship
    The Radiance of the Seas was docked in Seward. Many cruise ships dock here for the day and offer tours and trips to the surrounding areas.

    Even before we left the harbor, we spotted 4 bald eagles! Two of the bald eagles were perched on the breakwall just chilling out. At that point, I knew this was an omen for good things to come!

    Bald Eagles
    You lookin' at me?!? A pair of bald eagles in the Seward Harbor. I saw 4 bald eagles before we even left the Harbor!! A sign of good things to come!

    Whale Watching

    Of course I did not have to wait long for my first whale sighting, a humpback whale. The captain of the boat seemed to know exactly where the whales were and could even tell how many times it would surface before diving down and showing its tail. He was like the "Whale Whisperer"!

    Whale Spout
    Humpback Whale spout near Seward. Scientists have calculated that the rate of the water being shot up into the air by the whale as going faster than 200mph!

    We sailed out of the Seward Harbor into the Pacific Ocean and spotted whale after whale, it was absolutely amazing. At one point we had 2 pairs of mother and baby humpback whales and about 10-15 Dalls Porpoises surrounding the boat. I didn't know where to look; it was sensory overload! Spotting the whales and watching them went on for about 2.5 hours; I had to have watched over 12 humpback whales during that time. Incredible!

    Whale Fin
    Humpback whale waving hi to me! The whale would wave his fin around then smack it on the water; it was really fun to watch.

    Whale Tale
    Whale waving goodbye to me. The captain of the boat knew when the whale was going to dive and told us to be ready to get pictures. He was the

    Dall's Porpoise
    At one point there were over 10 Dall's Porpoises speeding through the surf around the boat! They were amazing to watch...check out the video below!


    GlacierA mass of ice that persists for many years and notably deforms and flows under the influence of gravity.

    After the whale watching we sailed on to the glacier. I spotted the glacier from a few nautical miles away as this thing was HUGE!

    Huge glacier flowing into the Ocean

    The captain navigated the ice field around the end of the glacier. When we finally got close to the glacier I looked up at over 200 feet of ice above me! It was beautiful!

    Glacier 2
    Over 200 foot tall glacier near Seward, Alaska

    Glacier 3
    Up close look at the glacier near Seward, Alaska

    Glacier 4
    I was kind of shocked by what I saw at this glacier. I wasn't expecting green foliage so close to the glacier.

    Me & Glacier
    Me standing on deck of the boat overlooking the HUGE glacier!

    The boat provided lunch and I sat there for a long time under the glacier just mesmerized by its shear size. I was pulled out of my trance by a loud popping and banging sound coming from the glacier. Pieces of the glacier were breaking off and falling into the water. I could not believe how loud the sounds were! Some of the sounds were like a gun or small cannon had been shot off.

    Glacier Calving
    Pieces of the glacier breaking off (called calving). I couldn't believe how loud it was; as loud as a gun shot and sometimes like a cannon.

    The crew brought up pieces of the glacier that had broken off and I was able to hold it while they took my picture. It was very surreal holding a piece of ice that was probably hundreds of years old.

    Glacial Ice
    Me holding a chuck of glacial ice found floating in the Ocean and recovered by the crew. The chunk weighed at least 40 pounds!

    Harbor Seal
    Harbor seal navigating the ice field around the glacier

    One of the things I noticed while I was sitting there was a rushing of water coming out of the base of the glacier. I had heard about these rivers of water that flow under the glaciers because they actually lessen the friction between the glacier and the mountain and cause the glacier to move downhill faster to where it breaks up and falls into the Ocean.

    Glacial River
    River flowing underneath the glacier. This river actually speeds-up the glaciers plummet into the Ocean as there is less friction between the mountain and the ice.

    The site of the glacier was very peaceful (except for the occasional huge noises as the pieces were breaking off) and was an ideal place to go kayaking and as we sailed away from the glacier we passed several kayakers making their way towards the glacier.

    One of the more popular tours in the area is to visit the glaciers by kayak. I am sure this had to be a very peaceful and relaxing experience!

    Marine Mammals

    The rest of the cruise the captain took us on a marine mammal and bird watching cruise. A few minutes after leaving the glacier I spotted numerous logs on top of the water. When we got close, I noticed them moving and disappearing beneath the surface of the water. They weren't logs, they were sea otters!!! We passed numerous "rafts" of sea otters lying on their backs.

    Raft of Otters
    No, they are not pieces of wood! It's a

    I didn't realize how big the sea otters actually were until I saw them today. Some of the sea otters were almost 5 feet long! I wish I could have watched them longer, but we had a schedule to keep.

    Sea Otter
    Sea otter near Seward, Alaska. The otters can grow to over 5 feet long!

    A little while later I got to watch stellar seals basking in the sun on an outcropping of rocks. They were so noisy and almost sounded like they were barking at one another. The stellar seals can get to be quite large like the one in the Alaska SeaLife Center that weighed at one point over 2200 pounds! None of the ones I saw today were that large, I would say some of them tipped the scales at a few hundred pounds but not too much larger.

    Stellar Seals
    Stellar seals basking on the rocks near Seward, Alaska. These seals can grow to be HUGE. I saw one at the Alaska SeaLife Center that weighed over 1700 pounds!


    Bald Eagle
    Bald eagle chilling on a cliff near Seward, Alaska.

    On the cruise I was also able to watch 4 more bald eagles and one juvenile bald eagle still in its nest. The juvenile was hard to see as bald eagles do not get their signature white head until at least 3 years of age.

    Juvenile Bald Eagle
    Can you spot the juvenile bald eagle? Bald eagles do not get their signature white heads until they are at least 3 years old

    We also got to see a rookery (nesting colony) of puffins and murres, birds that are sometimes called the penguins of the North (as there are no penguins here in the Arctic). The murres lay their eggs on the rock surfaces and use their bodies to incubate the eggs. The eggs are more of an oblong shape so they roll more in a circle and do not roll off the cliffs as easily.

    Horned puffin near Seward, Alaska

    Rookery (nesting colony) of murres. They do not build nests; they lay their eggs right on the rocks. The eggs are more oblong so they roll in a circle rather than roll off of the cliff.

    Ultimate Moment!!!!

    The final moments of our cruise were the absolute highlight of the day. I noticed another wildlife cruise watching a whale nearby. Our captain directed our boat towards the final way of the day. As I was watching, the whale flew out of the water (or what they call a breach). I had been only hoping beyond hope to see a whale breach and I did! I was not to be disappointed either as the whale breached 2 more times! The last time the whale breached it was no more than 100 feet from our boat and I got a picture of the 20+ ton animal flying out of the water. I was so excited! The cruise lasted 6 hours and was definitely well worth the money. The only bad thing about the cruise, and this is stretching it as a bad thing, was that they were all humpback whales. I was really looking forward to seeing all different types of whales. Overall, the cruise was amazing.

    Humpback Whale
    Humpback whale jumping out of the water (called breaching). Imagine witnessing this 20+ ton animal just fly out of the water. Words cannot describe the power and the emotions felt at that time. Absolutely Amazing!!!!!

    Fact of the Day

    View from the boat on my glacier and wildlife watching cruise near Seward, Alaska

    Today's Fact of the Day Question: What is the official name for the Northern Lights?

    Yesterday's Fact of the Day Answer: What is the state gem?? Hint - can be a girl's name!! Alaska's state gem is Jade

    Inuit Word of the Day

    Mountain 2
    Mountain views and glacial ice as we get closer to the glacier

    Yesterday's Word: qaniq = Mouth Hint: Sometimes you put your foot here - and it's not a good thing (haha)!!! Did you get it right?

    Today's word: Namiippunga - Hint: You will probably ask this if you are lost. What is the word of the day?

    Mountains 3
    View heading back towards Seward Harbor after an amazing day!

    Please take 2 seconds and reply with your guesses to the fact of the day or Inuit word of the day in the "Ask the Team" section link below: