Today was a great day for fish and all those that love them! In fact, it was great day for those who not only love fish, but love to eat fish! For our lay day in beautiful Wrangell crews decided to spend their time focused on one of the defining elements of Alaska’s cultures, economies and ecosystems- fish! Our fisher folk on Discovery, Bob, Kim, Sherry and Dave, as well as Steve and Joy off of Thea chartered a fishing trip with Nightingale Charters. Their knowledgeable and friendly guide, Tenyia, along with his family picked up our hopeful fishermen, and took them out for a day of fishing. The triumphantly returned that afternoon having caught Coho, Pinks, Rockfish and even limiting out on Halibut. Now that’s a good day on the water.
Other crews preferred to spectate the fish catching to actually doing the catching, and spent their day at the Anan Bear Observatory. After a short jet boat ride, our crews arrived at the base of Anan Creek, a watershed that supports spawning salmon. The arrival of salmon to their natal streams heralds a period of abundance that draws in other species for mile around, and in numbers larger than you would typically find. Brown bear, black bear, eagles and ravens all congregate and jockey for position, the hierarchy clearly going from largest to smallest, along the creek edge to fish for the salmon running up stream. As the bears begin to get full, they start to get picky, eating just the head and then using one massive paw to squeeze out the extra fatty roe- a delicacy! On the sidelines are eagles and ravens, looking more like vultures than ever, eyeing the bear and waiting to descend onto the salmon carcass once discarded. Even after the eagles, and then ravens, eat their fill the salmon continues to provided life sustaining nutrients. Now far from the river, the remaining bones and flesh of the salmon decomposes into the forest floor adding rich nutrients to the trees and plants. Researchers can even tell what years the salmon were plentiful just by looking at the tree rings in the surrounding forest. Crews who visited Anan Bear Observatory got a superb, up close look at this fascinating and icon ecosystem.
Back in Wrangell, Deception had the good fortune of hosting Moira, Don, John and Darlene for dinner on Deception. Captain Brian cooked up his famous halibut, and we all left dinner full and happy.