Prince William Sound: Bays, Forests, Glaciers

May 30, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

Prince William Sound is separated (and protected) from the Gulf of Alaska by three islands: Montague Island, Hinchinbrook Island, and Hawkins Island. It is almost completely surrounded by the Chugach National Forest and mostly inaccessible by road or trail.  By boat, however, one can explore the peaceful bays, inlets, and fjords, and enjoy the views of the steep, forested hillsides, snow-covered mountains, and glaciers. 

Clearing storm, Prince William Sound, AlaskaClearing storm, Prince William Sound, Alaska

After a day of rain and overcast skies, a peaceful evening and clearing storm.

Rocky shoreline, temperate rainforest, Prince William SoundRocky shoreline, temperate rainforest, Prince William Sound

Seaweed, lichens, and moss add color to the shoreline near St. Matthew Bay. Spruce and hemlock, often covered by mosses have a precarious hold above the rocky shore.

Approaching Meares Glacier, Prince William SoundApproaching Meares Glacier, Prince William Sound Approaching Meares Glacier, Unakwik Inlet.

Meares Glacier calving, Unakwik Glacier, Prince William SoundMeares Glacier calving, Unakwik Glacier, Prince William Sound A closer look at Meares Glacier calving.

Waterfall and rocky cliffs line Harriman Fjord, Prince William SoundWaterfall and rocky cliffs line Harriman Fjord, Prince William Sound

Snowmelt creates a profusion of waterfalls along the steep walls of Harriman Fjord.

Rocky shore and reflections in Prince William Sound, AlaskaRocky shore and reflections in Prince William Sound, Alaska Calm water creates kaleidoscopic reflections of the rocks and lichens.

Prince William Sound is famously the site of the Exxon Valdez oil spill of 1989 in which more than 10 million gallons of oil was released into the sound. While the area appears to have recovered from the event, scientists are still finding new evidence of this ecological trauma.

Less well known, perhaps, is that the epicenter of the 1964 Alaska Earthquake was also located within the Chugach National Forest adjacent to the sound. As an oceanic plate plunged under a continental plate, some areas were uplifted while others sank. Ghost forests of dead spruce trees sometime line the shoreline, marking the areas that subsided and drowned the trees' root systems.


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