As we left the boat harbor in Valdez, we got another view of the pump station and tanks at the end of the Alaska pipeline. There was one tanker filling up as we went past. The captain told us that all oil from the pipeline goes to US refineries. Part of the agreement to build the pipeline was that all oil had to go to the USA. The pipeline was original built with a life expectancy of 20 years. It is still going strong after almost 30 years and it is expected to last another 10 to 50 years depending on who you talk to.
Out in the bay the captain spotted a large group of Sea Otters floating along together. We made a circle around them so we could get pictures of them.
|Harbor Seals on the bouy.|
We followed the coast for a while and saw salmon jumping and a lot of small fishing boats. Cindy got some pictures of Bald Eagles in the trees.
We went around Glacier Island so we could see a large group of Sea Lions on a beach at the end of the island.Then we turned around and went into the Columbia Bay headed for the Columbia Glacier. We started to see ice bergs and the further we went into the bay, the more there were. The captain took us a lot closer to the face of the Glacier than any of us thought he would. We got to see the Glacier calving, that is large pieces of ice falling off the glacier into the water. I thought it was interesting that the captain told us that there were 3 different glaciers in the area that all have the same amount of snow and the same weather conditions, but one is growing, one is staying the same, and the Columbia Glacier is receding. The Columbia Glacier was the last one of the 3 to recede and that during the summer as much water comes out from it as all the water in the Mississippi River. The face of the Glacier is about 10 miles across, and as soon as it recedes enough, the different parts will be renamed. The captain told us that the growing and receding is a cycle, and has nothing to do with so called global warming.
|A Puffin taking off.|
When we went to leave the face of the glacier, the ice had rearrange enough that the path we came in on was blocked with small ice bergs. The captain had to pick our way out through the ice, and some times we could hear ice hitting the boat.
|This was our way out of the Bay.|
On the way back we had a group of Dall's Porpoise play around the boat. The captain said that they were the fastest animal in the ocean and they could swim faster than the boat.
It took us about 2 1/2 hours to get back to Valdez and was an interesting day. Cindy's back was bothering her by the time we got back, but she is still glad we went. Thanks for visiting.