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Posts Tagged ‘LeConte Glacier Bay’

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Ice flows © DY of jtdytravels; P1100299

After lunch we dropped anchor at the mouth of LeConte Glacier Bay.

We seemed to be surrounded by slow moving chunks of ice.

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LeConte Glacier Bay © Jt of jtdytravels; P1130615

The fiord leading up to the glacier was hidden from view; just around the corner.

It was a tantalising prospect!

Google Sattelite photo of Glacier Bay Alaska

Google Satellite photo of Glacier Bay Alaska

We, of course, would not see this satellite view but it helps to get an overview of the glacier and part of the Stikine Icefield from which it comes. This glacier is 34 km (21 ml) long and 1.6km (1 ml) wide and it’s the southern most tidewater glacier in the Northern Hemisphere. It was named in 1887 in honour of one of John Muir’s friends, California geologist Joseph LeConte.

Our expedition notes tell us that the fiord leading up to the glacier is 19km (12ml) long, “carved out of the coastal mountain range over thousands of years. However, in 1995, this glacier suddenly shrank, retreating .8km (.5ml) in just 5 months. Then in 1988, it retreated nearly another 1.6km (1 ml) more and so became one of the fastest retreating glaciers in the world.”

Web photo of LeConte Glacier

Web photo of LeConte Glacier

We wouldn’t go right to the face of the glacier as it’s extremely active and the waters at the face are filled with icebergs, large and small. The water at the face is 250 m (810 ft) deep and this glacier is well known for what are known as “shooters”; icebergs that calve off the glacier under water and shoot up and through the surface since the ice is lighter than the water.

Harbour seals migrate to this ice filled end of LeConte Bay for the birthing and rearing of their pups. The ice makes a perfect place to haul out and sometimes many animals can be seen on one iceberg. Here they are safe from predators such as Orca Whales which don’t attempt to navigate this end of the ice filled bay.

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© DY of jtdytravels; P1100302

And we wouldn’t attempt that end of the bay either! But we did leave ‘Sea Lion” in more open waters and used the inflatable DIBs to travel a few kilometres into the fiord for an afternoon of exploration.

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Ready to go on DIB Pisces © JT of jtdytravels; P1130636

These very sturdy inflatable DIBs would allow us to go much further into the bay than we could explore by ship… and we would see some of the largest icebergs in South East Alaska. They’re certainly not as big as those David and I had seen in Antarctica some years ago but there were many and varied icebergs to be seen and enjoyed, both in size and shape with colours from pure white to ice blue.

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© DY of jtdytravels; P1100308

So let’s head into the fiord and make the most of a sun filled afternoon to get up really close and experience the stunning beauty of some of nature’s amazing ‘ice sculptures’. I’ll let the photos tell the story.

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Time’s up! We’re called back to the ship. However, we were in no hurry to leave the magic of floating amongst these strange, fantastic chunks of ice. Our DIB driver, the ship’s bosun, Nicky, and our naturalist guide, Caroline, were enjoying the experience as much as we were. It’s often very wet and quite cold in this fiord, so they, too, were able to enjoy being out amongst the icebergs on a sunny and relatively warm afternoon. Eventually, however, it was indeed time to leave the harbour seals to their solitude and return to “Sea Lion’ with our cameras filled with photos and our minds filled with some truly wonderful memories. And now, we have enjoyed being able to share that memorable experience with you.

More anon

Jennie and David

All photographs © Jennie Thomas & David Young of jtdytravels

Our other travel site is

www.dymusings.com

More of our travel photos are on

www.flickr.com/photos/jtdytravels

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