Lewis Sharman has one of the truly interesting jobs in the world. He is park ecologist at Glacier Bay National Park. And that job description means that he is the person who does all kinds of general science work that’s not done by specialists. There are marine mammal specialists, plant specialists, fishery biologists, bear biologists and other science specialists who work within the park. The ecologist is the guy who sort of takes a broader, more comprehensive view of natural history and science in the park.
So he gets to interact with scientists from all over the world who come to conduct research. This is one of the few places on earth where glaciers are advancing. But also in the park the retreat of many of the glaciers means that the land is actually rising and scientists come to study that. The ice weighs so much that as it retreats the land actually rise and according to Lewis it’s rising rapidly. Glacier Bay land is rising faster than the sea level is rising from the melting ice.
And Lewis is fascinated by what is happening underwater as well. Turns out there are large concentrations of coldwater corals. Turns out that there are corals that grow quite well in cold waters. Some are called red tree corals. They’re very brightly colored things that are big maybe three feet high. “You’d never think that you’d find something like that in a cold ocean with icebergs floating above. But those are some of the things that we discover once we take a look underwater,” he says. Listen to Lewis and you’ll also find out about giant octopus. He does have a great job.
Click the arrow below to hear this podcast:[audio:http://www.hollandamerica.com/assets/cruise-vacation-onboard/AParkforScience.mp3]
Listeners can download all 16 of the Glacier Bay podcasts, or only a specific audio file, onto a personal iPod, MP3 or portable media player before embarking on a Holland America Line Alaska cruise to Glacier Bay. Preloaded podcasts on iPods also are available on board for checkout. To access the complete “Glacier Bay Ranger Podcast Anthology” click here.
Paul Lasley and Elizabeth Harryman, travel writers, broadcasters and regular contributors to the Holland America blog, worked with the National Park’s rangers, scientists and naturalists to allow you this rare insider’s view into the science and wild beauty of Glacier Bay National Park.