Wildlife & Glaciers

Wildlife

Many species of marine mammals, birds, and land mammals inhabit the abundant waters and coastlines of Kenai Fjords National Park and Prince William Sound. Listed below are just a few of the species that can be viewed from our cruises. For a list of whale species that can be seen on our cruises, click here.

Dall's porpoise

Dall’s Porpoise

These playful porpoises are often mistaken for killer whales because of their similar markings. Often you’ll see them bow riding or circling the boat at high speeds, breaking the water to breathe. Generally, these 4 to 6-foot mammals travel in pairs or large groups.

Steller sea lion

Steller Sea Lion

This rare, endangered species lives in large colonies, feeding largely on mollusks and fish. They grow to 6 to 8 feet and weigh 1,500 lbs. (males) and 600 lbs. (females). They are distinguished from their cousins, the California Sea Lion, by their light colored, reddish fur.

Harbor seal

Harbor Seal

This wide-ranging seal can be found throughout most coastal waters in the northern latitudes. In Alaska, they are often seen resting on ice floes around active glaciers. They grow to a length of 4 to 5 feet and weigh 250 lbs.

Sea otter

Sea Otter

The smallest of all marine mammals, the playful sea otter spends most of its life in the water, feeding on fish, squid, sea urchins, and crabs. They often float on their backs, using their stomachs as a table for their food. They are generally 29 to 39 inches long with light brown heads and flipper-like feet.

Eagle

Bald Eagle

Alaska is home to North America’s largest population of bald eagles. They live in trees and snags, feeding primarily on fish and waterfowl. Bald eagles get their distinctive white heads at about five years of age and they mate for life, returning to the same nests year after year.

Horned puffin

Horned Puffin

These birds are named for the black horn-like markings over each eye. They are also distinguished by their red-tipped beaks.

Tufted puffin

Tufted Puffin

Tufted puffins are distinguished by the yellow tufts of feathers behind each eye and by their fully black bodies.

Black legged kittiwake

Black-Legged Kittiwake

Thousands of kittiwakes nest at the end of Cape Resurrection and in Prince William Sound, building their nests on the sheer cliffs. This surface-feeding member of the gull family is common throughout Southcentral Alaska.

Common murre

Common Murre

These deep-diving birds nest in large colonies on ocean cliffs. Their eggs are pear-shaped to prevent them from rolling off of narrow ledges. Murres average 14 to 16 inches tall and are known to dive up to 300 feet in search of food.

Oystercatchers

Oystercatcher

These seabirds use their long, red beaks to hammer holes in the shells of mussels and clams and pry limpets from rocks.

Dall sheep

Mountain Goat

Billies (males), nannies (females), and kids (babies) are often spotted scrambling along the steep coastline cliffs of Kenai Fjords National Park and Prince William Sound.

Black bear

Black Bear

These large mammals can be seen along the coastline and weigh as much as 500 pounds. They feed on salmon, berries, and vegetation.

Glaciers

Kenai Fjords National Park and Prince William Sound are home to some of the most magnificent glaciers in Alaska. The Harding Icefield in Kenai Fjords National Park covers more than 700 square miles and is the source of over 35 named glaciers. Below is information on the different types of glaciers that can be seen from our cruises.

Tidewater glacier

Tidewater Glacier

A tidewater glacier occupies a fjord and terminates in the ocean. The terminus lies below sea level and generally has an almost vertical face (often over 1,000 feet high) that sheds off huge chunks of glacial ice. This spectacular display, called calving, can vary dramatically during the year.
Examples: Kenai Fjords – Holgate Glacier, Aialik Glacier
Prince William Sound – Blackstone Glacier, Beloit Glacier

Piedmont glacier

Piedmont Glacier

A piedmont glacier is broad valley glacier that terminates on an open slope or plain beyond the mountains. Piedmont glaciers recede and create dry outwash plains or freshwater lakes at their termini.
Example: Kenai Fjords – Bear Glacier

Hanging glacier

Hanging Glacier

Hanging glaciers flow down out of mountain valleys and are generally larger at the head and smaller at the base. The terminus of a hanging glacier lies above sea level.
Examples: Kenai Fjords – Godwin Glacier, Porcupine Glacier
Prince William Sound – Northland Glacier, Whittier Glacier, Billings Glacier

Alpine glacier

Cirque Glacier

A cirque glacier is a small glacier that occupies a bowl-shaped depression between mountain valleys. They are generally small and circular or oval in shape. There are many cirque glaciers throughout the area, most of them unnamed.