Currents: Glacier Bay's Ocean Science Hub

Glacier Bay Ocean Science Blog

About This Blog

Keep current on the scientific research happening in the park, the folks who conduct it, and how park managers use it.

A Century in the Life of a Glacier Bay Nautical Chart

April 16, 2021 Posted by: Whitney Rapp, Glacier Bay GIS Specialist

In March 2021, the NOAA ship Rainier surveyed the Beardslee Islands for the first time since 1939.


Humpback Whale Song November 2020

November 16, 2020 Posted by: Chris Gabriele

Not many people know that humpback whales sing in their Alaska feeding grounds, but here's proof.


The Tail End of Humpback Whale Field Season 2020

October 30, 2020 Posted by: Chris Gabriele and Janet Neilson

Annual humpback whale population monitoring draws to a close for 2020, with a bumper crop of calves, despite pandemic challenges.


Fisherman Helps Scientists Track Outburst from Lituya

October 05, 2020 Posted by: Michael Loso, NPS Geologist

In mid-August 2020, a large outburst flood from Desolation Lake caused the lake level to drop at least 60 meters and filled Lituya Bay with icebergs, debris, and muddy water.  Scientists are studying it to better understand glacial outburst floods.


Mountain Goats in the Mist

September 03, 2020 Posted by: Kiana Young and Tania Lewis

The straight scoop on using DNA in mountain goat poop to study population structure as intrepid Park biologists go on a collecting trip to Table Mountain above Taylor Bay.


Good News from the Humpback Whale Monitoring Program

May 20, 2020 Posted by: Janet Neilson and Chris Gabriele

Humpback whale monitoring results for 2019 are in, and the 2020 field season off to a great start.


Mountain Goat Genetic Population Structure in Glacier Bay National Park and Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park

November 06, 2019 Posted by: Kiana Young and Tania Lewis

Mountain goat pellets reveal population structure


Connecting University Students with Nature through Science in Glacier Bay

December 20, 2018 Posted by: Tania Lewis, NPS Wildlife Biologist

College students spent a week in remote Taylor Bay as apprentice field biologists through a grant from the Murie Science and Learning Center and Alaska Geographic.


Humpback Whale Feeding Call – It’s Not Just for Groups Anymore

June 19, 2018 Posted by: Chris Gabriele

A distinctive humpback whale vocalization usually associated with group feeding has now been found to be used by whales that are feeding alone.


Humpback Whale Population Monitoring – Results from the 2017 season

June 18, 2018 Posted by: Janet Neilson and Chris Gabriele, NPS

Just as the 2018 whale monitoring surveys begin, the annual report on 2017 population monitoring is posted online.


The Importance of Tracking Fisheries Harvest in Glacier Bay National Park

April 15, 2018 Posted by: Craig Murdoch

Data helps fisheries biologists preserve and protect Glacier Bay National Park.


Recent Declines in Humpback Whales in Glacier Bay & Icy Strait – Is Their Heyday Over?

January 29, 2018 Posted by: Janet Neilson, Chris Gabriele, and Lou Taylor-Thomas (NPS)

After thriving for many years, the humpback whale population in Glacier Bay and Icy Strait has recently shown signs of decline in numbers, reproduction, and overall health.


Wolverines and Deer-mice and Bears, Oh My!

January 16, 2018 Posted by: Tania Lewis (National Park Service) and Mira Sytsma (University of Washington)

Remote cameras test responses of wildlife to shoreline tourism and landscape change in popular areas of Glacier Bay.


Modeling the Acoustic Ecology of Humpback Whales and Large Vessels in Glacier Bay

December 04, 2017 Posted by: Christine Gabriele (NPS) and Adam Frankel (Marine Acoustics Incorporated)

A new study based on the Acoustic Integration Model (AIM ©) predicts that humpback whales in Glacier Bay are exposed to less underwater noise from large vessels when there are slower ships, fewer ships, or ships that are scheduled to arrive an hour apart.


Gull Eggs for Breakfast in Hoonah

October 25, 2017 Posted by: Tania Lewis, Ashley Stanek, Darlene See, Mary Beth Moss, NPS

Hoonah Indian Association tribal members conducted the second experimental glaucous-winged gull egg harvest in Glacier Bay National Park this summer. Find out how it went.


Stalking the Smothering Sea Squirt

October 25, 2017 Posted by: Deanna Ochs, Communications Specialist, Ocean Alaska Science and Learning Center

NPS staff monitor for an invasive sponge and find an large array of sea life.


Doin’ the Float Coat Shuffle; A Three-day Research Odyssey into the Heart of Glacier Bay

September 11, 2017 Posted by: Deanna Ochs (NPS Ocean Alaska Science and Learning Center)

Park scientists work with researchers from the University of Alaska Fairbanks to document the physical and chemical characteristics of the ocean waters of Glacier Bay, and to assess the condition of the microscopic organisms at the base of the food chain.


Now We See It, Now We Don’t: Helping Vessel Operators Detect and Avoid Humpback Whales

September 11, 2017 Posted by: Jenny Helm (University of Montana)

Graduate student Jenny Helm has observed humpback whale respiration patterns for more than 400 hours from the bow of a cruise ship, over the past two summers.


Humpback Whale Population Monitoring – Results from 2016 Season

September 08, 2017 Posted by: Chris Gabriele,  Janet Neilson and Lou Taylor-Thomas

The annual report on humpback whale monitoring results from 2016 is now available.


Up Close and (Perhaps a Little Too) Personal with Glacier Bay Humpback Whales

August 25, 2017 Posted by: Deanna Ochs (NPS Ocean Alaska Science and Learning Center)

A firsthand account of a day on the whale research vessel Sand Lance, by Science writer Deanna Ochs from the NPS Ocean Alaska Science and Learning Center.


For Killer Whales, It's all About Family

August 22, 2017 Posted by: Dena Matkin (North Gulf Oceanic Society)

This dramatic photo series shows a family of transient killer whales learning to cooperate, for their survival, on a harbor porpoise kill.


A Story Map Glance at Glacier Bay's Hydroscape

August 08, 2017 Posted by: Ryan Crumley

A story map reveals new insights into historic and forecast trends in precipitation and runoff in Glacier Bay.


Counting Sea Otters in Glacier Bay National Park

July 31, 2017 Posted by: Emma Johnson, Jamie Womble

Aerial surveys of sea otters will help scientists estimate the spatial distribution and abundance of sea otters in Glacier Bay.


What Does the Wildlife Do When We're Not Watching? Responses of Wildlife to Tourism and Landscape Change

July 19, 2017 Posted by: Tania Lewis (GBNPP) and Mira Sytsma (University of Washington)

A new collaborative research project in Glacier Bay is using motion sensor cameras to study the responses of wildlife to tourism and landscape change.


Life in the Food Chain: Sometimes Nature Isn't Pretty

June 30, 2017 Posted by: Janet Neilson

Can you identify this (UFO) Unidentified Floating Object?


I'll Fly Away: Disturbance of Kittlitz's and Marbled Murrelets by Ship-based Tourism in Glacier Bay

June 27, 2017 Posted by: Scott Gende

Even at a distance, Kittlitz's murrelets and marbled murrelets commonly dive or flush from the water when cruise ships approach.


Results from Strawberry Island: Harbor Seals Adjust Vocalizations During Vessel Noise

June 23, 2017 Posted by: Leanna Mathews

Recent results suggest that male harbor seal calls are louder, shorter and higher-pitched during vessel noise.


Salmon Going With the Flow: Causes of Low Dissolved Oxygen in Two Southeast Alaska Rivers

June 19, 2017 Posted by: Christopher Sergeant

A new scientific article finds that low river flow and abundant salmon can cause low oxygen levels in two southeastern Alaska rivers.


Glacier Bay Teams Up with Citizen Science to Track Seabird Mortality

February 22, 2017 Posted by: Tania Lewis, NPS Wildlife Biologist

A seabird die-off in 2016 inspires park biologists and local citizens to track seabird mortality in Glacier Bay.


Thirty Years of Humpback Whale Monitoring Results Published in Ecosphere Journal

February 03, 2017 Posted by: Chris Gabriele

A new publication in honor of the NPS Centennial summarizes what biologists have learned about humpback whales over the past 30 years in the Glacier Bay area.


The Annual Murrelet Report

January 27, 2017 Posted by: Emma Johnson

The annual report on monitoring Kittlitz's and marbled murrelets in Glacier Bay National Park.


New Story Map: Monitoring Changes in Glaciers in Alaska's National Parks

December 29, 2016 Posted by: Emma Johnson

A new interactive map shares changes and trends in glaciers in national parks across Alaska. Additional videos by the Alaska NPS provide further insights into the changes in some of Alaska's glaciers.


New Report: 2015 Humpback whale population monitoring results

December 19, 2016 Posted by: Janet Neilson

2015 population monitoring results for humpback whales in Glacier Bay and Icy Strait are now available.


Plastic Packing Bands Entangle Steller Sea Lions

December 09, 2016 Posted by: Justin Jenniges, Alaska Department of Fish and Game

Plastic packing bands entangle the necks of Steller sea lions. Biologists from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game have developed ways to remove the bands from sea lions.


Eavesdropping on Whales and Seals with 8,170 Hours of Underwater Sound

December 06, 2016 Posted by: Chris Gabriele

Two successful years of underwater sound recording in Glacier Bay are complete. Let the data crunching begin.


Humpback Whales are Homebodies: Genetic Analysis Finds Strong Site Fidelity to Glacier Bay and Icy Strait

December 05, 2016 Posted by: Chris Gabriele

Although humpback whales are migratory and highly mobile, they show remarkable fidelity to local feeding habitats, as described in a recent article in Endangered Species Research.


New Publication: Quantifying Icebergs as Habitat for Harbor Seals in Tidewater Glacier Fjords

December 02, 2016 Posted by: Jamie Womble

Harbor seals use icebergs in glacial fjords for essential activities such as pupping, molting and resting. A recently published study describes a new method to describe the fine-scale characteristics of ice in glacial fjords.


Time Lapse Cameras Document Sea Lions

December 02, 2016 Posted by: Justin Jenniges, Alaska Department of Fish and Game

Steller sea lions tend to choose haul out sites that are difficult for people to access. Researchers overcame this challenge by installing cameras to collect data on sea lions.


The Bay in October

October 14, 2016 Posted by: Janet Neilson, Emma Johnson

Humpback whale biologist Janet Neilson conducted a late season whale survey earlier this week in Glacier Bay and shared some notes and photos about her day on the water.


Season's End at Strawberry Island

September 09, 2016 Posted by: Emma Johnson

Check in with the Strawberry Island marine acousticians at the season's end, including a special video by Indie Alaska.


A Whale of a Feast Bears Many Scavengers But No Bears

August 24, 2016 Posted by: Tania Lewis

A spectacular series of photos from a motion sensor camera placed near a humpback whale carcass for the past two months reveals wolves, eagles, ravens and gulls but no bears.


Yes, It's Been a Very Warm Summertime Ocean Out There!

August 24, 2016 Posted by: Lewis Sharman

Long term monitoring of Glacier Bay oceanography reveals that this summer, the waters of the bay seem relatively warm and less salty.


Keeping Our Beaches Clean

August 16, 2016 Posted by: Javan Bailey

Though the waters of Glacier Bay are almost pristine, marine debris and trash does get washed ashore. Park staff collected a skiff load of trash this spring.


Humpback Whales With Attitude

August 02, 2016 Posted by: Chris Gabriele

Why do humpback whales interfere when killer whales attack other marine mammals?
Find out more about this behavior in Glacier Bay and Icy Strait, and around the world, in a fascinating new article in Marine Mammal Science.


A Keystone Species, the Sea Otter, Colonizes Glacier Bay

July 29, 2016 Posted by: Jamie Womble

The sea otter population in Glacier Bay has expanded significantly in the past twenty years and researchers are developing a new model to accurately count these furry shellfish eaters.


eDNA Collected in Harbor Porpoise Fluke Prints

July 26, 2016 Posted by: Marilyn Dahlheim

Researchers from the National Marine Mammal Laboratory are studying harbor porpoise population structure by collecting genetic material left in the ocean when a porpoise swims by (known as environmental DNA).


A Gray Whale on a Gray Day

July 26, 2016 Posted by: Janet Neilson and Chris Gabriele

Humpback whale biologist Janet Neilson was surprised to make a rare sighting of a gray whale in Glacier Bay last week.


Cultural Resources and Visitor Impacts

July 15, 2016 Posted by: Mary Beth Moss, Cultural Anthropologist

While many people are aware of the impacts of vessels and visitors on wildlife and wilderness, they may be unaware of the cultural impacts. A recent study illuminates some ramifications of vessels and visitors on the cultural and ethnographic resources of Glacier Bay.


Updates from the Strawberry Island Research Team

July 14, 2016 Posted by: Emma Johnson

After three weeks in the field on Strawberry Island, the bio-acoustic researchers spent the fourth of July in Gustavus. Check out their blogs to catch a glimpse into research on a wild island in Glacier Bay National Park.


Nesting Blues: A Challenging Year for Nesting Seabirds

June 30, 2016 Posted by: Tania Lewis, Wildlife Biologist

Bear, tides, and limited food resources are just some of the challenges faced by nesting seabirds. Glacier Bay's wildlife biologist, Tania Lewis, shares the results of recent breeding bird surveys throughout the bay.


It’s a Jungle Out There: Glacier Bay’s Remarkable Phytoplankton Productivity

June 22, 2016 Posted by: Lewis Sharman and Seth Danielson

Researchers recently deployed oceanographic moorings to better understand physics and phytoplankton in Glacier Bay.


Whales In Their Front Yard: The Sequel

June 17, 2016 Posted by: Chris Gabriele

"Acoustic Spyglass" field observations of marine mammals begin this week on Strawberry Island.


Return of the Salmon

June 15, 2016 Posted by: Craig Murdoch, Chad Soiseth

Each summer, some salmon return to Glacier Bay's streams and rivers, providing sustenance to animals, plants, and people. Fisheries biologists use high-tech sonar to learn about the abundance and harvest of coho salmon in the Bartlett River.


Glacier Bay's Youngest Scientists

May 25, 2016 Posted by: Emma Johnson

What did you do in elementary school science class? Glacier Bay's local fourth and fifth grader students conduct a year-long study in the park.


Otters on Ice

May 20, 2016 Posted by: Emma Johnson

Was that a sea otter on an iceberg? Yep, and park scientists are trying to learn more about the abundance of sea otters in Glacier Bay.


Let the Underwater Listening Begin!

May 03, 2016 Posted by: Chris Gabriele

Four hydrophones were installed, marking the start of the second year of research on harbor seal and humpback whale vocalizations near Strawberry Island!


Red Tree Corals

March 30, 2016 Posted by: Emma Johnson

Beautiful deep sea corals live in the waters of Glacier Bay. Current research explores their range and depth.


Nest with a View

September 30, 2015 Posted by: Tania Lewis, Glacier Bay National Park Wildlife Biologist

Is nesting on the most beautiful heights of Glacier Bay enough to deter predators? Get an in depth view of the perils of egg laying in Glacier Bay in this blog post.


September 21, 2015 Posted by: Lewis Sharman, Glacier Bay National Park Ecologist

You have probably heard about the "warm blob" of water in the Pacific. Has it come to Glacier Bay? Read on to learn more.


Dead Whales and Widespread Ocean Anomalies

September 18, 2015 Posted by: Chris Gabriele

Around the Pacific Ocean, there have been widespread reports of unusually warm water, algae blooms and whale and seabird die-offs. Whether these are related is still an unknown question.


Humpback Whale Fluke Injury of Unknown Cause

September 08, 2015 Posted by: Chris Gabriele and Janet Neilson

In mid-June 2015, the GLBA humpback whale monitoring team documented a fresh wound on the tail of a whale first identified in the Glacier Bay area in 1993.


Steller Sea Lions: Following the Fish to Point Carolus

August 26, 2015 Posted by: Jamie Womble

Steller sea lions typically move to Point Carolus during late summer and early autumn in response to Pacific salmon which are migrating through Cross Sound, a primary migratory corridor for salmon entering northern Southeast Alaska from the Gulf of Alaska.


Whales In Their Front Yard

August 17, 2015 Posted by: Chris Gabriele

Camped on Strawberry Island since mid-June, the humpback underwater acoustics research team from Oregon State University has just wrapped up their 2015 field season.


Bird Food

August 13, 2015 Posted by: Emma Johnson

What lives in front of Margerie Glacier? Bird food!


Fog larks are accounted for in 2015!

August 03, 2015 Posted by: Chris Sergeant, Ecologist, NPS Inventory and Monitoring Program

An update on the 2015 Kittlitz's murrelet surveys by one of the researchers. Did you see them out in the bay?


Fog Larks

July 13, 2015 Posted by: Emma Johnson

A mysterious sea bird is seen throughout Glacier Bay. Researchers in the bay are tracking their populations.


Ear plugs for whales?

June 30, 2015 Posted by: Emma Johnson

Humans are noisy. How do marine mammals respond? Glacier Bay researchers are seeking answers.


Zip ties, buckets, and science

June 26, 2015 Posted by: Emma Johnson

What do you need to safely drop a hydrophone of the side of a boat and expect it to work? What does that device look like?



June 25, 2015 Posted by: Chris Gabriele, Emma Johnson

Calling all mariners! Check our our new blog on ocean research in Glacier Bay. Start a conversation about science and park management and learn something along the way.


Last updated: June 25, 2015

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