Sounds from Alaska: Seaside Chorus

There’s a chunk of bedrock rising from the cold waters of Glacier Bay to form a little scrap of an island topped with a tuft of spruce trees. The rock has not always been in Glacier Bay. In fact, a mere 400 million years ago it was not a rock at all but a growing blanket of broken shrimp legs and abandoned clam shells settling into the mud and muck of a tropical backwater lagoon.

Heat, pressure, and time molded the bits, parts, and goo into a solid mass, which immediately began (thanks to the restless wandering of the ocean’s crust) making its way north and slightly east on a collision course with my backyard. When the former lagoon ground against the leading edge of North America, it was scrapped from the ocean floor with a continental-sized spatula.

All that scrapping and grinding broke the rock into island-sized chunks—one of which we boated past last week and, since the clacking kittiwakes, piping oystercatchers, whistling guillemots, and bellowing sea lions were making such a glorious racket, all three of us aboard the boat scrambled for the microphones faster than a passing puffin.

So, here’s a snippet of the cacophonous chorus that has set up shop on the tip of the chunk of rock as it journeys on through to its next destination.

Enjoy (we sure did).

Hank Lentfer is the author of Faith of Cranes. He lives on a creek bank in Gustavus, Alaska.


  1. Great sounds! Really enjoying this new series, and looking (listening) forward to what’s yet to come.

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