Voices of Glacier Bay Soundscape Project

Voices of Glacier Bay
Among the most precious elements of our wild heritage are the original voices and natural choruses of the North American land.

Among all of Alaska's national parks and other public lands, Glacier Bay may offer the greatest richness and variety of natural, wild voices. On a given day, park visitors might hear an astounding assortment of sounds: glacial ice exploding into a tidal inlet, wolves howling along a wave-washed shore, loon cries echoing between forested islands, humpback whales calling, hermit thrushes singing among high boughs, brown bears thrashing after salmon, raindrops making polyrhythms on a muskeg pond, shore crabs scuffling among tidal boulders, harbor seals growling on ice rafts, and moose grunting in wet meadows.

Name That Tune: Glacier Bay!
Test YOUR skill in identifying the amazing sounds of Glacier Bay

listening to barnacles
Richard Nelson recording the mysterious sound of barnacles.

There are also human sounds associated with wild places. Some may be contentious-a passing skiff or distant rumbling ship, a floatplane overhead, or jet in the clouds. Others are more evocative-the crackle of a campfire, musical whirlpools from a kayak paddle, water droplets ticking on the rainfly. All are part of the backcountry experience. National Parks have always been synonymous with majestic views and scenery, but in recent years, there has been an upsurge of interest in the auditory aspects of wild nature, including both the sounds and the silence.

National parks are the most important repositories in which these voices can be preserved for generations beyond our own. Glacier Bay may be the premier location for Alaska's heritage of wild sounds. In order to fully understand and protect this heritage, we must start by recording how these places sound today. The recordings from this project will provide a contemporary record particular species (e.g., golden crowned sparrow or hoary marmot) and phenomena (e.g., glacial calving) that will later become a historic record for future park visitors and managers. This natural history collection of sounds will be one of the first efforts to document Glacier Bay sound environments.

Tune-In to Glacier Bay and listen to our soundscape files
Enjoy high-quality soundscape files from Glacier Bay.

Glacier Bay Soundscape Galleries

One of Glacier Bay's most magical resources are the natural sounds that surround you. Whether in front of a booming glacier, quietly paddling a remote cove, or enjoying the serene flute calls of thrushes in the rainforest, the voices of Glacier Bay will forever be a memorable part of the experience.

Enjoy these selected recordings that bring these places to life.

These longer duration high-quality recordings can transport you to the backcountry of Southeast Alaska. No matter where you live, now you can put on your headphones and escape to the wilds of Glacier Bay National Park! Enjoy!

recording sounds from a kayak
Naturalist Richard Nelson recording sounds from a kayak

Listen to Glacier Bay!

Below are links to some of our favorite recordings.

  • Encountering the Wolf
    Richard and Hank experience an amazing interaction in the wilds of Glacier Bay.
  • 10 Sounds That Make You Feel More Alive!
    Whales, whispers of the intertidal, burping icebergs, and more. Enjoy some of the amazing sounds recorded summer 2013.
  • Fall Frenzy
    First frost. Yellowing cottonwoods fluttering like rain. A vibrant morning that finds critters either scrambling to head south or fettering about getting ready to stay through the winter.
  • Whale-Sized Trumpet
    Massive humback whales and their booming sonic blasts are accompanied by the high-pitched whistles of tiny marbled murrelets.
  • Waiting For the Feast
    While salmon splash their way upstream, hungry predators wait in the trees and on the riverbanks.
  • Kittiwakes and Ice
    The sound of a "gazillion tons" of cascading, crackling glacier ice is joined by the cries of young kittiwakes.
  • Front Yard Wolf
    Sometimes the wildest sounds can be enjoyed from the most unexpected locations.
  • Thunder Thrush
    A rare summer thunderstorm doesn't faze the warblers, kinglets, or thrushes.
  • The Hermit and the Humpback
    What does a futive, feathered, woodland creature with a pea-sized heart have in common with a deepwater behemoth wth nostrils big enough to put your head into?

"Voices of Glacier Bay" in the news!

Voices of Glacier Bay: An Adventure in Sound
Alaska Public Radio, October 2014

Last updated: January 13, 2022

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Contact Info

Mailing Address:

Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve
PO Box 140

Gustavus, AK 99826


907 697-2230

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