Sitka is for wildlife The water and land surrounding Sitka are justifiably well known for abundant and diverse wildlife. Does your Alaskan dream include an experience with one of the largest mammals on earth, the brown bear, or a brief encounter with the quintessentially cute sea otter on a board tour? In Sitka, your dreams are within reach. Is Whale Watching high on your bucket list? Come to Sitka in November for the Sitka Whale fest when you will find the waters teeming with humpback whales in the surrounding waters prior to their departure for the warm waters of Hawaii and Mexico. Aside from whales and otters you can expect to find seals, sea lions, and a large variety of sea birds including puffins, rhinoceros auklets, murres, and black oystercatchers. On shore, bald eagles are plentiful and hunt from tall Sitka Spruce and hemlocks. In town, they can be seen perching on the steeple of St. Michaels’s cathedral. Brown bears can be spotted grabbing salmon in their powerful jaws from freshwater streams and the appropriately named Sitka black-tailed deer forage in the forest for food. To get up close and personal with coastal brown bears take a trip to the Fortress of the Bear, a refuge for orphaned bear cubs that would otherwise face euthanasia. This sanctuary that makes use of the clarifying tanks of an abandoned pulp mill, allowing visitors to see bears at paly in a created environment. At the Alaska Raptor Center, sanctuary that helps to rehabilitate injured raptors and release them back into the wild. For those birds that cannot be released they are retained on site to be educational birds. The center hosts bald eagles, great-horned owls, golden eagles and red-tailed hawks to name a few. Sitka, a wildlife paradise on the outside of Baranof island, Alaska.
Glaciers – moving rivers of ice, have captivated our imaginations, confounded geologists and enraptured tourists for decades, if not centuries. Glaciers are largely responsible for shaping much of the earth’s topography. The work of glaciers includes the great lake, Yosemite Valley, the great lakes, the St. Lawrence River Valley, the fjords of Norway and Chile, and the famous “sounds” of New Zealand, which are, more accurately fjords. Those who sail on cruise ships to view these magnificent natural features find themselves hopelessly devoid of adjectives to describe this icy wilderness, so pure and untouched. Over the history of our planet, gigantic sheets of ice have carved enormous areas of the globe, both land and sea. At least eight ice ages have and advanced and retreated during the last 750,000 years glaciers have scraped and scoured their way down mountainsides and vast expanses of continents.. No continent has been exempt from this relentless activity. During the last ice age, 20,000 years ago, nearly 32% of the earth’s surface, and oceans were covered in ice. Today, 10% of the globe remains covered in ice mostly in polar areas.
Alaska has more glaciers and icefields than any other area in North America. Around the world 47 countries have one or more types of glaciers. Areas of major glaciation include Canada, Chile, Norway, New Zealand and Switzerland. Glaciers take on a many shapes and sizes including ice sheet, ice caps, cirque glaciers, hanging or apron glaciers and tidewater glaciers, the most rare. Glaciers can vary in length from the 76-mile path of the Hubbard glacier to the shorter length of the Mendenhall Glacier, only 12 miles from its source.