On a grander scale, there are mountains all around us, many swaddled in glaciers.
Instead of whales, we begin to see commercial fishing boats scattered about the water like so many brightly colored toys.
The sea lions are fun to watch. A snooze in the sun might at any time erupt into a loud argument complete with angry bellows, snaps, and snorts. Even when not particularly agitated, these are noisy creatures. . . . stinky too, when you get downwind of them.
We continue on, passing through a gorgeous narrow channel and then cross the entrance to College Fjord.
I imagine the members of the Harriman expedition standing on deck, marveling at all of these glaciers lined up so neatly and thinking of their own schools and the schools of the colleagues. It must have seemed a great joke to name this distant icy glaciers for those elite schools. This says something about many of the early white explorers here that I think we tend to forget: While we mythologize the people who mapped our country as uneducated, tough-as-nails individualists who went off alone into the wilderness to seek their fortune, many were actually well-heeled and highly-educated members of the period’s elite social class.
Most of the tours in this part of Prince William Sound go into College Fjord – for good reason, as the Fjord abounds with glaciers, including large and active Harvard Glacier. (Seen here are, in order: Wellesley, Vassar, Bryn Mawr, Smith, Baltimore, Radcliffe, and Harvard.)
We discover a sea of sea otters. They dot the water’s surface, almost as far as I can see, lounging in groups or alone.
Mostly we see them flipping sideways and vanishing into the water. However, having been nearly hunted to extinction for their incredible fur a century ago, I applaud their caution and wish them all the best.