After a “slow as you go” descent of Exit Glacier due to the steep incline and treacherous rocks we were off to our next destination: The Alaska Sealife Center in Seward for a marine biologist-hosted behind the scenes look at the world’s first cold-water marine research, rescue and rehabilitation institute. Similar to the Wildlife Center visited earlier, this non-profit center rescues, treats, rehabilitates and whenever possible releases animals back to their natural environment, in an effort to maintain the integrity of the marine ecosystem of Alaska. Helping in this endeavor are scores of volunteers as this facility has limited, mostly private funding to keep them going. They are extremely protective of their patients so we were not able to go into many of the labs where the injured are being nursed back to health. However there were many healthy animals around to keep us occupied – in fact we even got a sneak peek at an adorable baby harbor seal who emerged from under his blanket to give us a few barks before he was wheelbarrow transported back inside. No pictures of this baby, but many other creatures were around for photo ops.
Inside tanks were colorful starfish, anemone and jellyfish:
Outside there were playful and somewhat amorous sea lions cavorting in the water with much kissing:
There were a myriad of marine birds, starting with this sleepy fellow, a wigeon duck:
And this stunningly patterned eider duck – clearly the down looks SO much better on him than in a comforter:
But it was this next species of water bird that completely stole my heart: the Puffin. These colorful birds are also found in Iceland, but due to poor weather conditions I was unable to visit the rookery island when I visited in December. Thankfully there was a bucketful of these quirky, funny acrobatic birds at the ASC who despite their somewhat bulky appearance are excellent swimmers. Here is one who graciously gave me both profiles:
This coy fellow played hide and seek with me:
And this one, after continually coming over and splashing me, laughed in my wet face:
And finally, to show it was all in good fun gave me a happy dance:
I want one.