Monday, July 27

Bears! Salmon!

It's taken about a week, but I feel like I'm getting back into my Juneau funk.

Had a great tour yesterday: a Best of Juneau. 47 people excited to go whale watching, visit the glacier, then eat some salmon. They were incredibly interactive - laughing, asking questions, being attentive - it made the information just pour out of me. Some of the usual things I talk about (glacier isostatic rebound, dairies, housing costs) never had time to come up because I was incorporating so much other information. It made me feel good to have a tour go so well after taking a good week and a half off from it.

Plus, it helped the crowd morale to see a bunch of whales, and then later, a momma bear with two cubs. How can you be in a bad mood when you get to watch a black bear roll around in the soft grasses of the Tongass?!

Sockeye salmon have also started spawning near the glacier. They are an incredible red color (sockeye are also called red salmon for this reason). The creek they come up is right next to the road, and their color makes it easy to see them even when it's raining. It is a neat feeling to be feet away from a natural spawning ground, watching the flopping and skirting in action. I took some pictures, but they weren't great, so the one below is from 2004. It's the same stream, only image less sun, as yesterday it started raining when I was there.

Aren't they pretty? They look small in the photo, but these fish are about the size of large dust buster, or roughly shy of 48 inches. When they are ready to spawn, they will pair off in two (male and female). The female will nestle up in an area she feels is good for her eggs, which sort of looks like she is nose diving in the dirt. The male will saunter up after she's done and spray his milt over the area. Ta da! The salmon spawning process is complete! They the parents go die somewhere, and their bodies are recycled into the circle of life. Maybe a bear eats them, maybe an eagle. Maybe they just decompose and the little critters in the stream get a meal.

Hopefully I see the bears again today. It's not common for a momma bear to be so comfortable with people watching her cubs. This sow has been in the area for at least 8 years, this being her fourth litter she's let wonder around people at the glacier.

I'm also hoping to find out if Dan's search for an apartment in successful. He and his mom, Linda are down in Carbondale going to a bunch of different locations. Linda is taking pictures, so I won't have to wait until October to see where we'll be at.

Enjoy the day!

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