Gorgeous day in Prince William Sound

Gorgeous day in Prince William Sound

Prince William Sound, particularly the town of Whittier, is known for its crappy weather.  So to plan to do a photo shoot for a particular day and to have that day to be a calm, sunny one … well, it’s like hitting the photo weather lottery.

I went out with Mike from Lazy Otter Water Taxi to test a new piece of custom gear specifically designed to aid in boat-based wildlife photography with a long lens. It also involved a TV crew, shooting for a show that, for now, must go unnamed.

We went out on the Qayaq Chief, a 40-foot craft with a front ramp that can be lowered for bow landings and drop-offs out in the Sound. The forecastle area was rather spacious, allowing me to move around from one side to the other, reacting to wildlife as we spotted it. And while it was later in the season than usual, we still had some good luck with wildlife.  Visiting Beloit and Blackstone Glaciers, we saw a large number of Brandt’s Cormorants – as many as eight in one group – floating, sitting on flat, floating pieces of glacial ice, gliding by against the ice-gouged landscape. We also encountered a couple of solo sea otters with young, and a small raft of sea otters.

It’s always amazing to get up close to these glaciers, seeing their massiveness from the water, observing the scar in the deep bedrock that is left behind as the glaciers retreat. It is difficult to photographically capture the scale of these rivers of ice, but when I can, I try to show it through some foreground element, like a tree or boat. But the other thing that you cannot capture is the amazing sounds. At one point, as we were floating through a patch of small bits of ice, I could hear a crackling sound in the water (like Rice Crispies), small chunks of ice bouncing off the keel of the boat, and the roar of a distant, massive waterfall. And then, occasionally, the cracking, thundering sound of the glacier calving.

And while it may not have been a major wildlife bonanza, it was a great day to be out on a boat in Prince William Sound.


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