Authorities are investigating the deaths of three tourists from Germany whose bodies were found Tuesday in the water near the toe of Valdez Glacier.
A kayak guide spotted the bodies just before 10 a.m. while leading a tour group on Valdez Glacier Lake, about 7 miles northwest of the city of Valdez, said spokeswoman Sheri Pierce.
Responders recovered the bodies of a married couple, both 67, and another 62-year-old man around 2 p.m., about four hours after the kayak guide initially reported two bodies in the water, Pierce said. Two of the bodies were found floating in the water, and the third was found on an ice floe.
Investigators believe the three tourists were in an inflatable canoe before they died, Pierce said. They were wearing life jackets when they were found.
“It’s dangerous getting near the face of glaciers like that,” she said.
Investigators haven’t yet determined what might have led to the deaths. Pierce said foul play is not suspected, but the glacier is calving, or shedding ice, which she said slowed responders in reaching the bodies.
“If they were knocked out of the boat due to a wake or a calving piece of ice, the water is very cold,” Pierce said.
Set back in a valley and flanked by mountains, Valdez Glacier Lake is a popular destination for paddlers and picnickers in summer, and cross-country skiers, hikers and snowmachiners in winter. The toe of the glacier where it meets the lake is largely hidden from view from the shore near the parking area.
Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated, based on information from the City of Valdez, that a kayak guide from Anadyr Adventures discovered the bodies. No Anadyr guides were on the lake at that time, according to the company’s general manager.