Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve is a 3.3 million acre land and seascape which includes tidewater glaciers, snow-capped mountain ranges, ocean coastlines, deep fjords, and freshwater rivers and lakes. It supports a wide variety of flora and fauna and an astounding adaptability of nature as life returns to areas that magnificent glaciers have only recently surrendered. Marine waters make up nearly one fifth of the Park, and with no point of land more than 30 miles from the coast, the land and marine environments are closely intertwined.
Over 200 species of fish swim in Park waters, including all 5 species of Pacific salmon. Dungeness, king and Tanner crab as well as clams, scallops and shrimp have been harvested by the people of this region for centuries. Commercial fishers come to find Pacific halibut, rockfish, lingcod, Pacific cod, sablefish, and pollock. Small schooling fishes include capelin, sandlance, herring, juvenile walleye pollock, juvenile salmonids, and lanternfish.
Glacier Bay is an important foraging ground for marine mammals including the endangered humpback whale and the threatened Steller sea lion. Thousands of harbor seals take to the floating ice to breed and nurture their pups. Minke and killer whales as well as harbor and Dall's porpoises feed in the park's productive, near-shore waters. Sea otters have colonized the bay as well as Park waters in Icy Strait and Cross Sound. Many of these marine mammals ply the more turbulent gulf coast waters as well, where they mingle with gray whales, the occasional beluga whale, or others less common to the region.
This National Park is home to a mosaic of plant life. Mosses, lichens, dryas, horsetail and fireweed are among the first plants to appear near the end point of the retreating glaciers. As soil accumulates these areas develop into dense thickets of alder and cottonwood. The lowlands are cloaked in spruce and hemlock rain forest and lush, spongy tracts of muskeg. In the surrounding mountains, the alpine hills and meadows are carpeted with thick mats of flowers and heath. All of these communities support expanding populations of animals, birds and insects.
About 220 bird species have been recorded in the Park. A great variety including thousands of seabirds, molting or migrating geese and sea ducks, arctic breeders such as arctic tern and parasitic jaeger, bald eagles, nesting songbirds, and a migratory stopover for many species as well.
The Park hosts healthy populations of land mammals such as mountain goat, brown bear, coyote, moose, wolf, black bear, the rare blue or glacier bear, lynx, snowshoe hare, beaver, river otter, marten, mink and weasel, wolverine, marmot, porcupine and several species of voles, shrews and mice.
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