While the Humpback Whale is an endangered species, in Glacier Bay it is doing well. And while on occasion visitors may catch a stray Minke or Killer Whale (orca), it’s the Humpback that gets a lot of attention. Ranger Janet Neilson spends a lot of time studying the humpback in Glacier Bay. Neilson says that the Bay is quite a treasure trove for mammals. Even Harbor Seals come to the Bay to breed the next generation. Neilson says that the seals come to the Bay to give birth to their young right on the ice floes below both the Margery and Johns Hopkins glaciers.
The wildlife is so diverse here that visitors will definitely want to bring a pair of binoculars and maybe even a notebook to catalog and identify all the species of whale, porpoise and sea lions we find here. Neilson studies them from her 19 foot skiff in the waters of the Bay. Much of the marine mammal activity in the area Neilson attributes to the strong ocean currents which sweep up nutrient rich water and brings a vast array of fish and wildlife into the eco system. Neilson points out that some of the real drama in studying the whales comes when they sing and feed. The whales journey from Alaska to Hawaii on their migration through the Pacific as they have for millennia. Neilson points out that visitors can’t predict when or where they will see whales but most often sightings occur as the ships enter or leave the Bay.
Click the arrow below to hear this podcast:[audio:http://www.hollandamerica.com/assets/cruise-vacation-onboard/Whales.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.