Staff was back to work Tuesday at the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore following the federal government shutdown, but they returned to ice-free sea caves.

Strong northeasterly winds on Sunday and Monday blew the ice completely away from the sea caves, the park posted on its Facebook page on Tuesday. A photo from the park’s sea caves camera shows open water with only a few smaller chunks of floating ice in front of the sea caves.

“The ice that blew out was very poor quality - hopefully there’s still time for a higher quality ice sheet to form,” the park wrote on Facebook on Tuesday.

Park rangers weren’t checking ice conditions while a lack of appropriations caused the government to shutdown beginning on Saturday. Park rangers warned that ice conditions to the sea caves were deteriorating and the existing ice was “porous, poor quality ice,” according to the park’s Saturday ice condition update.

The popular sea caves were last opened to the public in 2015.

For more information and updates, check the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore Facebook page; the park website,; or call the park’s Ice Line at (715) 779-3397, ext. 3.