Summer in Seward, Alaska

    Hello! It's time for an update that's been a long time coming. To decrease the chances of coronavirus arriving in Antarctica and overwhelming the medical facilities there, many research programs have been canceled for the remainder of 2020 and into 2021. PolarTREC participants like myself were told that our trips would be put on hiatus for now, and only essential personnel would be heading to the ice this year. Of course, that was disappointing to hear, but I do understand the logic behind the decision. Antarctica is currently the only continent without any coronavirus cases and in order to keep it that way, the number of people arriving on the continent will have to be limited. While it was difficult to hear the news that our research trip was canceled for 2020, I still have the hope that we will be able to go to the icy continent in 2021 and explore larval development of sea spiders and nudibranchs in response to changing sea temperatures.

    A view of Holgate Glacier
    An overview of Holgate Glacier, seen from a distance of approximately 1/2 mile.

    So, rather than heading to Antarctica this fall, I replaced Antarctica with Alaska this summer. I have been working as a first mate on sightseeing boat tours out of Seward, AK for the past 8 summers, and this summer was no different. I wasn't sure what to expect in terms of tourists/how much work I'd have this summer, with all of the travel restrictions throughout the country, but I just wanted to get out of Florida and up to Alaska to my "happy place". We did have some tourists visiting, but numbers were definitely down compared to prior years. I was still able to get out on the water pretty often, seeing glaciers, wildlife, and amazing scenery. I also had time to do some fishing for salmon, halibut, and rockfish – YUM! Instead of photos from McMurdo Station, we've got photos of Alaskan glaciers to suffice for the moment!

    Surprise Glacier
    A hanging glacier, called Surprise, with waterfalls coming off of it.

    Blue color in glacier close-up
    A close view of Holgate Glacier, showing the blue color, seracs, and sediment running through the ice.

    I hope you are staying safe with all that is going on in the world, and let me know if you have any questions or comments. Thanks for reading.

    Question of the Day

    What causes glaciers to have that lovely blue color? Answer in the comments below!

    Kenai Fjords National Park


    Judy Fahnestock

    I'm so glad that you were able to make it back to Alaska this past summer (actually, I might be a bit envious!). That sounds like an awesome summer job and from the looks of your photos, you have had some gorgeous views. Do you ship all those yummy fish home to Florida at the end of the summer?

    Kathy Ho

    This is making me so jealous - I spent last summer in Alaska ... my first time there, and i LOVED it!! Spent 3 days in Kenai Fjords, as well as Denali, Katmai, and Glacier Bay. Am already planning a trip back - and next time am definitely going to fit in time for fishing (which wasn't even on my radar last time!!)

    Sarah Crowley

    The blue is from the reflection/refraction of light, right?? Do glaciers have other colors?

    William Henske

    When I hear "first mate" I always think of Gilligan from his namesake island show.. Thanks for those amazing pictures!

    Amy Moran

    Beautiful photos! Thank you for sharing. These sound like great adventures and I’m looking forward to hearing more about them.

    Elaine Krebs

    Looks beautiful! Trading one pole for the other (sort of :) The Alaskan National Parks are on the top of my bucket list! I would love to go next summer and take a tour from you! :D