Alaskan Glaciers III: Aialik Glacier


Whilst in Seward, Alaska I really wanted to do a day boat cruise into the Kenai Fjords National Park to see the beautiful scenery, glaciers and of course the abundant wildlife including birds, seals, whales and more. Unfortunately, despite being summer, for a number of days the weather was atrocious on the Kenai Peninsula with heavy rain, strong winds and high seas. Cruises were being cancelled or cut short every day. It wasn’t looking good.

Orca Voyager tour boat Kenai Fjords Tours Seward Alaska
Orca Voyager tour boat in Seward

Luckily the weather on my last possible day before I had to leave the area showed some promise. Thankfully mother nature held bay and provided a foggy morning but ultimately a relatively nice, calm day that enabled me to finally hit the water!

Aialik Glacier. It is the largest glacier that runs into the upper section of Aialik Bay. It is an impressive sight and can be easily viewed from the tour boat.

Aialik Glacier Kenai Fjords NP
Aialik Glacier appears

Despite a thinning of the ice, fortunately the glacier is relatively stable and has retracted only around 1,000 feet / 305 metres since 1909. Although it is not great to hear that it has retracted it is still much better than the fate of many other glaciers effected by climate change in the past century.

Aialik Glacier Alaska 1909 Photo USGS - U.S. Grant
Aialik Glacier in 1909 (Photo Source: USGS / U.S. Grant)

You really feel like you are in Alaska here as it is cold, ice is often calving from the glacier, falling into the ice strewn bay and when you look closely you suddenly notice all the Harbour Seals swimming in the icy water and sleeping on the chunks of ice.

Aialik Glacier Kenai Fjords NP Alaska
A stunning place
Aialik Glacier Kenai Fjords NP Alaska
An impressive sight
Aialik Glacier Kenai Fjords NP Alaska
Evidence of ice calving
Harbour Seals Aialik Glacier Kenai Fjords NP Alaska
Harbour Seals swimming amongst the ice
harbour Seal Aialik Glacier Kenai Fjords NP Alaska
A Harbour Seal enjoying a rest on the ice
Aialik Glacier Kenai Fjords NP Alaska
Those little black dots on the ice at the base of the glacier are actually Harbour Seals
Aialik Glacier Kenai Fjords NP Alaska
Lots of Harbour Seals!
Aialik Glacier Kenai Fjords NP Alaska
The glacier is huge
Aialik Glacier Kenai Fjords NP Alaska
Blue ice
Aialik Glacier Kenai Fjords NP Alaska
Mother nature at her best

To fully enjoy the experience, the boat tour guides advised everyone to be as quiet as possible while we gently floated in front of the glacier. I could have spent hours in that peaceful setting with the cold air on my face listening to the ice crack and move. A stunning place.

Aialik Glacier Kenai Fjords NP Alaska
Cold but happy
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6 Comments Add yours

  1. Girl Gone Expat says:

    Great pictures of Aialik glacier – amazing to get so close it it and all the harbour seals 🙂 Did you get to see any whales on the trip in to the glacier?

    1. Deano says:

      Thanks. Beautiful place. Yes I saw Humpbacks and Orca. Stay tuned for more 🙂

    1. Deano says:

      Not sure on the actual temp but cold enough the jacket, beanie and gloves were required (but only right at the glacier)

  2. Kamila Pala says:

    Really nice cold mosaic of photos! Thanks for sharing. Very interesting virtual tour! 🙂 Bye. Kamila

    1. Deano says:

      Thanks Kamila. I have just returned from Iceland. The name doesn’t lie!

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