Located in the northern sector of Prince William Sound, College Fjord is roughly half way between Whittier and Valdez. This enormous ice field, located just thirty miles west of Valdez with sixteen tidewater glaciers, is a magnificent landscape surrounded by steep walls of ice and mountains that seem to spring from the water at sea level to 10,000 feet.
Of all the marine mammals that you are likely to see in College Fjord, there are three main groups that are found in the area. These are whales and porpoises, seals and sea lions, and the sea otter. You will more than likely see many sea otters and harbor seals, and occasionally you will catch a glimpse of the magnificent orcas.
Orcas are identified by their dorsal fins, as well as their distinctive colors of black and white. Males have tall, erect dorsal fins and females have a curved dorsal fin.
Sea otters have webbed hind feet, float on their backs when eating and carry their young on their bellies.
Harbor seals are earless and are often referred to as "hair" seals. Northern seals have ears and are active on land.
Beluga whales are white in color, grow to as long as 16 feet and have no dorsal fin. Gray whales are mottled gray, can grow up to 50 feet long, have no dorsal fin but have large flippers. The Humpback whale has a small dorsal fin on its hump. The Minke whale is identified by a white band on its flipper and a narrow, pointed head.
In 1898, an expedition traveled up the long narrow reach of a fjord on the northern shore of Prince William Sound. The goal of the expedition was to find a way to the Klondike gold fields that did not require a passage through Canada in the Yukon Territory. However, instead of gold fields, they found an enormous ice field -- the mother lode, if you will, of more than sixteen tidewater glaciers. On a whim, the leader of the expedition decided to name the glaciers after well-known American colleges, the most prominent being Harvard. The Harvard Glacier is an enormous wall of ice located just at the head of the fjord.