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A person born in March of 1989 would now be 30 years, 8 months old. Roughly, you have to be at least 40 years old and have lived in, or had some connection to Alaska at the time to have any first-hand memories of the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill. 

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Last week, about 50 people got together in Kodiak to think about changes to come to our town. The title of the conference was “Adapt Kodiak” and it was one of a series of such conferences held in numerous Alaskan communities to spur the process of thinking about how to take change into consi…

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It is a dark and stormy morning. The wind makes noises in my chimney pipe and gusts are shaking the house. Occasional thumps from the roof tell of the spruce cones and branches that are falling onto the house. Outside, the trees are dancing wildly and the shadows of their moving branches are…

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I did one 10-day Marine Debris cleanup tour to the beaches of Shuyak in June, and I just returned from a second such adventure in Izhut Bay, Afognak Island. In June, we had a group of young people on their first work experience, a beautiful setting, and a lot of very hard manual labor. This …

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I hate to resolve to the shallowness of writing about the weather. By now everyone must have noticed that we are having an unusually warm, extremely dry summer. But I may be wrong: Just the other day, as I left a store the cashier told me to “enjoy the nice weather.” There is nothing nice ab…

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It has been an amazing week. Actually, eight amazing days of Kodiak’s first Ocean Science Discovery and Marine Stewardship Camp. I admit it started rocky. There were troubles getting an insurance company to provide liability insurance for campers in a small island town in Alaska — one compan…

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KODIAK — Some topics are easy to write about. It is easy to look up the life cycle of an animal and describe its animal superpowers. I love doing that because I am always amazed by how nature solves the multitude of challenges life offers in so many different ways. Other topics are more diff…

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KODIAK — Kodiak is in summer mode; salmon fishing is at its height, tourists are swarming town, there is a constant background sound track of lawn mowers, outboards and children playing, and the roads are dusty. Some people love and enjoy every moment of it while others complain about too mu…

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KODIAK — Everybody eats. I thought writing about nutrition would be easy, especially since I have lately spent quite some effort learning more about what foods energize and what foods actually zap us of energy. Hours later, I found myself still staring at a blank page after going down severa…

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KODIAK — Sunshine, hot summer temperatures, blue skies, calm water-these are not usually terms to describe our Kodiak Archipel! Yet, the ten days I spent on tour with the Island C to clean up beaches on Shuyak Island, I was consistently surprised with these attributes, even though the weathe…

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KODIAK — Kodiak summers entice us outdoors to enjoy time with family and friends. From fishing and hiking to picnicking and grilling burgers on the BBQ, it seems like every activity is an opportunity for picture-taking. But how to capture memories and create good photos at the same time? 

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At the approach of a canoe, the wolverine tears into the woods, its claws spitting mud. Seconds later, ravens scatter from what resembles two branches reaching from a driftwood log.

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I just sent off an abstract to the Kodiak Area Marine Science Symposium (KAMSS). The abstract is for the high school Tsunami Bowl ocean science team to give locals a second chance to hear their research about what they think we should do to insure that the terrible die off of sea lions that …

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Announcement cards, graduation gowns, caps, tassels, keyrings, yearbook, senior T-shirts, senior sweatpants, senior water bottles. A whole assortment of commercial memorabilia are vying for my attention — or rather my checkbook. It is my son’s senior year. Graduation is not only the celebrat…

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Mornings are my favorite time of the day and this one was truly spectacular. Sometimes I can adjust my work hours so that I can get in a run before starting work. Today was one such day. On my first loop around Lake Gertrude at Abercrombie Park the sun just climbed over the horizon as a big …

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I just walked the dock in Kodiak. There were the usual working boats and a couple of sailboats. I noticed that some of the fishing vessels were rather fat-looking, whereas the sailboats were slender. Close to the sunlit water surface I saw a few small fish. Actually, I could only see their o…

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Have you visited your favorite touch tank on Near Island recently? If yes, I am sure you noticed the eerie absence of one of the most common and endearing organisms that every child and many adults cherish: the sea stars. What happened to the sea stars?

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Imagine it is a nice day, the ocean surface is flat and reflects the light from a slightly overcast sky. You are on a boat, around you a handful of nice people, all whispering quiet conversations to each other while excitedly waiting for that unmistakable sound of a surfacing whale.

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As we sit quietly on a grassy slope overlooking the river, a wildlife drama unfolds below. A mother bear with two cubs scampers up to a safe perch, nose twitching and eyes narrowed. Another mother bear approaches the water, her cubs rollicking along behind, intent on the smell of a thousand …

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Two weeks ago was the hottest week of the year in Old Harbor and the week of the tribe’s youth environmental camp. With a huge amount of planning and the help of four wonderful teachers, the week was packed with science, art, environmental safety and play activities. The teachers came from d…

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Kodiak kids are putting away their smartphones and videogame controllers and lacing up hiking boots each week as the Explore the Rock program makes a comeback.

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With a $48,208 grant from the Institute for Museum and Library Services, the Alutiiq Museum will partner with Alaskan ethnobotanist Priscilla Russell to publish her Kodiak Alutiiq Plantlore, a 1995 report on plant use traditions, according to an announcement from the Alutiiq Museum.

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Summertime is often a time to travel. I just returned from a trip to my native country, Germany. After many days of visiting family and friends and eating bread and cheese, locally grown fresh asparagus and fresh strawberries, I was ready for a little adventure on my own. Linking the trip to…

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The first wave of herring that came to feast outside of cannery row this spring were big and beautiful. The resident sea lions had their own feast eating those herring and some of the fishermen jigged up the silvery fish for bait.

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What do the great white shark, the bluefin tuna, a goose’s foot, a whale’s tongue and the future of regenerative energy have in common? The answer is a countercurrent heat exchange system.

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Spring is here. There are many signs of it and it seems that every person I talk to enjoys a different little delight of spring. Yesterday, I spotted the first blooms of coastal anemones and a tiny violet on the side of Pillar Mountain, and a couple of days ago out on the water the first puf…

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Over the last couple of weeks 103 Kodiak third-grade students have come to the Ocean Science Discovery Lab to learn about Ocean Food Webs. The sea lion eats the salmon, which eats the young herring, which eats the copepods, which eat the phytoplankton, which need sunlight and nutrients to gr…

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Resilience is the ability of a community to bounce back after a natural or manmade disaster. These or similar words were the opening of many of the presentations students from 16 high school teams from around Alaska prepared for the 19th annual Alaska Tsunami National Ocean Science Bowl. The…

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Have you noticed that whenever you drove by and looked at the beach this month it looked like it was high tide? Recently our local tides have been timed just so that low tide was during the dark and dusk hours of the morning or evening and high tide coincided with daylight hours. I don’t alw…

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If I offered you something to eat and told you it could disrupt your metabolism, growth and development, tissue function, sexual function, reproduction, sleep and mood, would you thankfully accept, enjoy and share with your kids? I think most of us would say we would rather not poison our bo…

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Recently, Kodiak has seen one big storm after another. One night not long ago, I woke up because twigs and spruce cones were thumping against my bedroom window as if knocking to be let in. I got up and looked at the trees in my back yard, which were swaying and waving their branches while th…

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Last Friday was the first day of a new year, a good time for new beginnings. I have always found the question about New Year’s resolutions awkward, because I try to live my life a day at a time and make the most of every day. Should that not mean that a year is a progression of small resolut…

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Remember those summer days at camp when so much was happening all in one week that it all became a blurr in ones head? Actually, my first summer camp on the beach was in High School and unfortunately it had nothing to do with Marine Science. The only planned activities there were soccer game…

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One of my favorite places to be at a low tide is the wide sandy beach that stretches from the mouth of Buskin River down to the old military roads behind Boy Scout Lake. I love the view, the seals that often stick their heads out of the waves to spy on me, and the way the dark basalt and lig…

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The news from California are drab. Apparently, the marine mammal rescue centers are flooded with starving sea lion pups and every day more arrive. Experts and volunteers are working overtime and the Sausolito Marine Mammal Rescue Center is begging for donations to help feed the large number …

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I've always been one of those terrible romantics who finds the white feathery tops of dandelions irresistible for making wishes. I've probably single-handedly doubled their population. Long-considered a delicacy in Europe, dandelions are the dread of gardeners because of their root systems, …

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This week during a class discussion about sea stars and their biology a teacher asked me the question how sea stars, which have no brain, know that they are hungry. Though it is a seemingly simple question, it actually sent me on an odyssee of reading articles about animal consciousness. Now…

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I have recently taken up a new hobby. I had a collection of plain wooden stools, chairs and a small table, and had the idea to paint them each with the image of a sea creature. Around the legs of the stools I usually paint ranking seaweeds and the top is the canvas for whatever sea creature …

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Spring was almost here, but now it feels like winter is back to remind us that we live relatively far north on the surface of our planet and it should be cold here.

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Once again I find myself in classrooms at Kodiak Middle School talking about ocean acidification. The causes and background, the chemistry, and the effects on shell building animals and why it all matters for us in Kodiak are topics we discuss and explore with lectures and hands-on experimen…

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Last weekend was the statewide High School Ocean Science competition called the Tsunami Bowl. The competition is an annual event organized by the School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks and part of the National Ocean Science Bowl. Nineteen teams from aro…

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This article was not written in Kodiak. This January, I have travelled far to the West and North to Tromso, the fifth largest town in Norway, to attend a conference called “Arctic Frontiers.”

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I will refrain from complaining about the weather; you have probably heard enough of that lately. Standing in the pouring rain I was talking to a woman the other day. She said that with all the rain she was beginning to feel like a mushroom.

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During the winter holidays we surround ourselves with the symbols of Christmas; snowflakes, lights, bells, evergreen trees and stars. Some of these season’s cheers have an obvious origin (snowflakes for winter time, and lights to give cheer to your local electric company), in others the symb…

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When I took a leasurely walk this morning I admired the beautiful snow capped peaks of the mountains all around. This time of year people either talk about how they are glad that the snow is not yet impacting traffic or they wish for the fluffy stuff in anticipation of time spent crunching t…