Prince William Sound: Wildlife

June 07, 2015  •  1 Comment

Wildlife viewing on Prince William Sound is as exciting and varied as the scenery.  There is an abundance of birds and marine mammals and glimpses of land mammals on beaches or steep hillsides. Puffins, murres, loons, sea ducks and shorebirds are to be seen everywhere and it seemed that each bay or inlet had an eagle or two perched on a spruce tree or soaring overhead. 

Surfbirds on rocky shore of Knowles Bay, Prince William SoundSurfbirds on rocky shore of Knowles Bay, Prince William SoundMigrating Surfbirds (Aphriza virgata) in breeding plumage, Knowles Bay, Prince William Sound, Alaska Surfbird flock on rocky beach

Tufted Puffins, Prince William Sound, AlaskaTufted Puffins, Prince William Sound, AlaskaTufted Puffins in front of their burrows, "Forbidden Puffin Island", Prince William Sound, Alaska Tufted Puffins on cliff outside their burrows

Black-legged Kittiwakes, Prince William Sound, AlaskaBlack-legged Kittiwakes, Prince William Sound, AlaskaA squabble over territory at a crowded Kittiwake nesting colony, "Forbidden Puffin Island", Prince William Sound, Alaska Nesting colony of Black-legged Kittiwakes

Likewise otters and harbor seals could be spotted in the open sound, in bays, or hauled out on beaches. 

Northern Sea Otters are larger than the Southern subspecies that inhabits the coasts of Central California. Once hunted almost to extinction for their pelts, the otters have made a remarkable comeback.  However,thousands of Prince William Sound otters were killed by the Exxon Valdez spill in 1989.

Northern Sea Otter (Enhydris lutra), Prince William Sound, AlaskNorthern Sea Otter (Enhydris lutra), Prince William Sound, AlaskNorthern Sea Otter on rocky shore, Constantine Harbor, Prince William Sound

The Harbor Seal (Phoca vitulina, also called Common Seal) is one of the most widely distributed marine mammals.  The Pacific subspecies inhabits the coasts of North America. Both otters and seals are wary of humans but occasionally an individual would allow a closer approach before disappearing under the surface of the water.

Harbor Seal (Phoca vitulina), near Channel Island, Prince WilliaHarbor Seal (Phoca vitulina), near Channel Island, Prince Willia The Steller’s Sea Lion (Eumatopias jubatus) is the largest of the sea lions. The species is classified as Near Threatened due to a significant, unexplained decline in their numbers over recent decades. We observed a group of well over a hundred at a haul-out near Bull Head on Glacier Island.  Some literally filled the water while others sunned themselves on the rocks.

Steller's Sea Lions, off Bull Head, Prince William SoundSteller's Sea Lions, off Bull Head, Prince William SoundA tightly-packed crowd of curious Steller's Sea Lions check out the Discovery, Prince William Sound Steller's Sea Lion bull stands out from the crowdSteller's Sea Lion bull stands out from the crowdSteller's Sea Lion bull stands out from the crowd at haul-out, Bull Head, Glacier Island, Alaska For more wildlife images and the complete Copper Delta/Prince William Sound gallery, click here.


Comments

Nancy Gallimore(non-registered)
These are exquisite Justine! Wish I had ben with you.......maybe someday.
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