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Thursday, July 18, 2013

Day 5 Scenic Cruising: Endicott Arm Glacier Calving on Video

Day 5 Scenic Cruising:  Endicott Arm Glacier Calving on Video

The Star Princess left Skagway yesterday sometime after 9pm and sailed southeast along the Inside Passage.  We woke up this morning as the ship entered the waters of what is known as the Tracy Endicott Arm, a large lengthy fjord with two inlets: Tracy and Endicott.  There were four other cruise ships that had sailed up the Tracy Arm so our captain elected to sail up the uncrowded Endicott Arm to view glaciers.
Glaciers were at their peak during the last ice age and have since retreated as the earth warms up.  During their movement toward the ocean they carved huge deep channels called Fjords.  The Endicott and Tracy Arm have peaks as high as 6000 feet and channels more than a 1000 feet deep.   There are mountains on both sides that rise up from the water and are covered with ice-polished granite rock and trees, all part of the Tongass National Forest. You can “google” Endicott Glacier and read all about it.

We were treated to the most gorgeous weather I have ever experienced in Alaska.  The air temperature was about 56 degrees with cloudless blue skies.  The naturalist from the bridge said that the atmosphere here is unpolluted, so pure and so rich in oxygen that you could get an O2 high if you wanted to try it.  He then talked about the rarity of shooting glaciers that rise up suddenly from the sea, kind of like whales do.

We had reserved two chairs for “the Sanctuary”, so after breakfast we toted our stuff up to Deck 15 and checked in with the attendants.  The ship moved slowly up the Endicott Arm barely pushing a wake ahead.  We began to see Harbor seals resting on floating ice along with a bunch of Ring-Billed gulls.

As we neared the end of the Endicott Arm the icebergs already in the water grew more numerous plus we saw a colony of over a hundred Harbor seals sunning on top of some of them.  The glacier looks like a huge blue jagged wave frozen in time.   

Suddenly we heard a loud noise and saw this huge iceberg emerge upward from under the sea, one of those rare events the naturalist had described earlier. Then we heard a huge “crack” and part of the glacier broke off from above (called calving) and fell down into the frigid waters creating a huge splash.

1st Calf of the Glacier
I quickly realized that a still photo would not do so I switched to video.  I had the camera pointed at the glacier and up rose a second iceberg from under the sea followed by more pieces of the glacier breaking off down into the water.  As you look at the video you’ll probably see that these pieces of ice are as big as a 5 story building.

The blogmaster would not upload our video so we posted it on YOUTUBE.  Here's the link:

I'll have to upload this video after we get home as the ship's computer equipment will not allow me to do it.
One of the shooter glaciers

The naturalist on the bridge was dumbfounded and excited.  He had been in Alaska for 15 years and had never seen something like this. The Captain said he has sailed here for years and never seen anything like this! I think we set some sort of record today. It was very exciting. The ship later made a complete 180 degree turn giving everyone a look at all this splendor.  We then slowly made our way out of Endicott Arm and back to the Inside Passage and continued to Thursday’s destination, Ketchikan.

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