By Kasey Cantwell, Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, Johns Hopkins Glacier, Glacier Bay National Park, AK
March 22, 2016
No one likes working on your birthday, but when your work involves exploring a beautiful place like Glacier Bay National Park, it makes it a little bit easier. While at sea, the days tend to run together. There are no weekends or days off and every day is 24 hours of science operations, so it is easy to see how a birthday could slip by. Today was Cheryl Morrison's birthday and all aboard the Norseman II made sure it was a special one with a few planned surprises and a few spectacular “gifts” from Mother Nature.
We spent today exploring the northernmost part of the Western Arm of Glacier Bay National Park in search of red tree corals. As we approached the dive site, and in between dives, we were treated to spectacular views of Johns Hopkins Glacier. This glacier is nearly a mile wide and 16 miles long, and it ends right at the water's edge just beyond our dive site. It is one of the few glaciers in the park that is increasing in size, instead of retreating. As we cruised by, we witnessed icebergs calving, near perfect reflections of the mountains on the glass-like surface of the water, bald eagles on icebergs, and even an avalanche. Another exciting birthday discovery was the documentation of Primnoa pacifica corals in the West Arm portion of Glacier Bay National Park for the first time.