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Wildlife In Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve

Though the park's name focuses on glaciers, there is abundant marinelife, waterfowl, shorebirds and land-rooted wildlife to keep your eyes glued to your binoculars.

From whales measuring 65 feet and more from tip to tail and brown bears that stand more than 10 feet tall when checking out who might be in the area to colorfully beaked puffins and rare Kittlitz's murrelets, the park contains an amazing wildlife menagerie.

Cruise the park's main bay and its inlets and you'll come upon humpback whales, the whoosh from their tell-tale water spouts revealing them often before your eyes see them. Orca whales ply these waters, too, though they're not spotted as frequently as are the humpbacks.

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Bald eagles are easy to spot in the park. Kurt Repanshek photo.

Harbor and Dall's porpoises also swim the bay, while raucous Steller sea lions can be spotted hauled out on the rocks of South Marble Island. Playful sea otters float on their backs, either while eating or just for fun, while harbor seals poke their heads curiously above the water to see who you are.

And, as anglers well know, the park offers five species of salmon to catch, as well as halibut, among the nearly 200 fish species that have been counted.

Move onto land and you could encounter bears -- both coastal brown bears (aka grizzlies) and the black variety -- and wolves, though they're more secretive. Moose are common in the park, and if you look at cliffsides carefully you just might see some of Glacier Bay's mountain goats.

Study the rocky outcrops along shore and you might also see a somewhat smaller denizen of the park -- the hoary marmot. River otters and pine martens also are often spotted.

Birders can easily add quickly and significantly to their life lists with a day cruise in the park, as South Marble Island is crowded with birds. Murrelets, both marbled and Kittlitz's, common murres, horned and tufted puffins, pigeon guillemots, pelagic cormorants, glaucous-winged gulls and more can be seen here.

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Steller sea lions hauled out near South Marbel Island. Kurt Repanshek photo.

Elsewhere along the bay and its inlets you might spot Arctic terns, Black-legged Kittiwakes, teals, Brandt geese, comon loons, surf and white-winged scoters, Black oystercatchers, Barrows goldeneyes, and mew gulls.

And, of course, bald eagles are plentiful and often spotted perusing their domain from spruce trees along the shores.

On shore, more common species can be spotted -- Steller jays, ravens, crows, wrens, magpies, redpoles, hairy and downy woodpeckers, and chickadees.

While you can see many birds, and humpback whales, from the shores of Bartlett Cove, a better way to see the wildlife is during a day cruise through the park.

Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve

National Parks Traveler's Essential Park Guide