"Voices of Glacier Bay" Soundscape Project
Among all of Alaska's national parks and other public lands, Glacier Bay may offer the greatest richness and variety of natural, wild voices. On a given day, park visitors might hear an astounding assortment of sounds: glacial ice exploding into a tidal inlet, wolves howling along a wave-washed shore, loon cries echoing between forested islands, humpback whales blowing in a calm bay, hermit thrushes singing among high boughs, brown bears thrashing after salmon, raindrops making polyrhythms on a muskeg pond, shore crabs scuffling among tidal boulders, harbor seals growling on ice rafts, and moose grunting in wet meadows.
There are also human sounds associated with wild places. Some may be contentious-a passing skiff or distant rumbling ship, a floatplane overhead, or jet in the clouds. Others are more evocative-the crackle of a campfire, musical whirlpools from a kayak paddle, water droplets ticking on the rainfly. All are part of the backcountry experience. National Parks have always been synonymous with majestic views and scenery, but in recent years, there has been an upsurge of interest in the auditory aspects of wild nature, including both the sounds and the silence.
National parks are the most important repositories in which these voices can be preserved for generations beyond our own. Glacier Bay may be the premier location for Alaska's heritage of wild sounds. In order to fully understand and protect this heritage, we must start by recording how these places sound today. The recordings from this project will provide a contemporary record particular species (e.g., golden crowned sparrow or hoary marmot) and phenomena (e.g., glacial calving) that will later become a historic record for future park visitors and managers. This natural history collection of sounds will be one of the first efforts to document Glacier Bay sound environments.
Below are links to some of our favorite recordings and soundscapes. As our library grows, more amazing sounds of Glacier Bay's "wild voices" will be here, so keep checking back.
Waiting For the Feast
Kittiwakes and Ice
Front Yard Wolf
The Hermit and the Humpback
Wet, Wild, and Weird
Did You Know?
Humpback whales migrate approximately 2,500 miles to feed in Glacier Bay’s productive waters each summer. The fastest migration from Hawaii to Glacier Bay clocked-in at 36 days!