Monday, August 31, 2009

Bear Euthanasia and Foot Size

We have some sad news to report. A small bear had to be put down at Ft. Abercrombie last week. The story is that he charged a couple who was walking their dog. But others say he was so young that he was probably looking to play with the dog instead of attack anyone.

Apparently, there are a few bears at Ft. Abercrombie and at the Spruce Cape USCG/Navy Seal winter training area. They are separated by Mill bay and you see both of those places on most of the pictures I take out of our window. Some say they probably swim across the bay often. Incidentally, they have documented 2 bears that swam the 25 mile width of the Shelikof Strait which separates us from the Katmai peninsula, where we took last week's bear viewing pictures.

As for determining the size of a bear from his foot print, measure the width at its widest point of the foot and add 1 inch. That is his length from forehead to rump when he is walking on all 4 legs. Here are a few pictures.

My shoe is 4 inches. So the little one is 5 feet...he is a small one by the airport at the Buskin River. The larger one was the average size of the bears around us at Geographic Point on the Katmai Peninsula. That one was 7 feet. I have one that measures 9 feet, but it is lightly smudged because the foot slipped, so maybe he was only 8 feet.

In any case, don't worry about us. Only 2 people have been killed on Kodiak Island by bears. Both of those were hunting by themselves, one of the with a 30-30 rifle, big enough for a deer but not a bear.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Bear Viewing

Carlos and I went on a float plane last Friday to view the bears in the Katmai National Park. We saw up to 17 different bears along with one mom and 2 cubs. At times the bears were within 10 feet of where we sat. But with all the salmon in the river, they really weren't interested in us.

There is an entire album you can view at Bear Viewing.

Please let us know if you enjoy the photos.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Kayaking among the kelp

Lately I've taken a liking to kelp. It is hard to believe that those 6 foot (or longer) tubes with 2-3 foot leaves attached to the bottom of the oceans are classified as an algae! I used to think scientists didn't pay enough attention to most sea plants to classify them correctly. However, lately I've discovered that their chromosomes are haploid just like algae and moss. (More about that on a future blog of sex-life of moss)

Anyway, the tubes are barely attached to the ocean floor by a thin and weak "holdfast" or root system. The stem and "bulb" floats up with its "blades" or leaves floating about 6 feet above the ocean floor. Under the brown (and occasional green or yellow) leaves is a world of urchins eating the kelp and starfish and sea otters eating the urchins. It is really beautiful to kayak about 2 feet above those leaves. I am tempted to put on a wet suit, mask and snorkel to go explore that ocean floor forest. Just hope I don't get tangled up in those stems.

After a storm, much of the kelp is torn lose from the ocean floor and that is what you see floating on the top of the water on a calm day like the one when I snapped these pictures. When kayaking through them, you have to be careful because occasionally they get tangled up on my paddle and pull it out of my hands. My grand daughter and I tried to pull one ashore a few weeks ago but it created such a drag that we could not make any headway while I paddled and she held on to one tube.

This week we brought one in by loading it into the kayak. Here is a picture of it at the beach with its holdfast still attached to its anchoring rock. Note that it's about twice the length of our 14 foot kayak.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Bear Viewing

Last evening we went driving out by the rivers to see if there were any bears fishing for salmon. As the salmon are very plentiful right now, we hoped to view one in the distance. Luck was with us as we spotted this 3 year old out in the marshy area. We watched him playing in the water for almost an hour. He would catch fish and just throw them up in the air, as if playing. He must not have been too hungry at this time. As we watched he began coming closer to our viewing area on the road. Luckily, the water ran under the bridge where we were standing and he followed the water. Although a couple of these photos were taken with a zoom lens, the close-ups are actually that. He was within 20 feet of us a couple of times. It does raise the adrenalin some when they come that close. But then, we are going out again tonight to see if he returns.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Not just a rainbow...

There are two natural phenomena to which we had become accustomed in the Southwest but don't occur in Kodiak often: thunderstorms and rainbows. One doesn't think much about them until one suddenly sees it and remembers how we miss them.

Friday we had a double rainbow! It was so spectacular for us that people stopped their cars in the road to look at them. In front of our house kids riding their bikes applied their brakes so firmly that they skidded to a stop as they saw while turning the corner. From their discussion, I must assume they had never seen one before.

Moral: Don't take the simple little things for granted.