Monthly Archives: July 2010

Sea of fish heads — Ski team skims up dip-netting garbage

By Jenny Neyman

Photos by Jenny Neyman, Redoubt Reporter. Above, Kenai Central High School ski coach D’Anna Gibson, right, and ski team members, left, scout for garbage at the Kenai north beach on Friday. The ski team cleans up trash and fish waste during the dip-net fishery as a fundraiser.

Redoubt Reporter

Snow may be a long way off this time of year, but the Kenai Central High School ski team is still focused on what’s covering the ground. In July at the Kenai beach during the personal-use dip-net fishery, that’s trash. Lots of it. Of all shapes and sizes — bottles, cans and food wrappers, lost or discarded clothes and shoes, fishing and camping gear, the occasional tire or dirty diaper, and fish heads — hundreds upon thousands of bodiless, eyeless, decomposing, sand-encrusted, seagull-picked-over fish heads.

And it all needs to be cleaned up. That’s where the ski team comes in.

“All the trash people end up leaving will get blown around or what not. We help pick it up because the dip-netters, I don’t think that they understand the kind of impact they have on the beach,” said D’Anna Gibson, KCHS ski coach. “For me, I’ve been a dip-netter in the past. I have a better appreciation for what goes into the city cleaning this place up. It’s like, ‘Oh, wow.’ All those fish heads, if they don’t get washed out with the tide, we have to pick them up — and the guts and trash.”

For three summers now, KCHS skiers, coaches and conscripted family members have patrolled the parking lots, access road, sand dunes and shoreline of the north bank of the mouth of the Kenai River two to three times a week during the dip-net fishery. It’s a fundraiser originally arranged as a civics project by now-graduated KCHS skier Trent Semmens. The city of Kenai directs the skiers where and when to clean, supplies them with bags and gloves and compensates them for their efforts. The team, in turn, picks up what others leave behind, as well as a new perspective on the importance of litter prevention.

Alex Springer hauls a bag of trash through the sand.

“It’s just so good for the kids to give back to the community,” Gibson said. “They get compensated, but it’s good for them to see what will happen if you don’t pick up your trash.”

What happens is it sits there until someone else cleans it up, in the meantime creating an eyesore as well as an ecological threat to the sensitive river mouth area.

Department of Environmental Conservation water-quality testing at the north Kenai River mouth beach from July 8 to 11 shows elevated levels of enterococci bacteria, which, at high levels, can cause stomachaches, diarrhea or ear, eye and skin infections.

The bacteria are found in the feces of warm-blooded animals, including birds, seals and humans. DEC hasn’t named a source of the contamination, and at this point is suggesting precautions to avoid getting sick ­— avoid swimming in or drinking the water, rinse after contact with the water, and cook all fish to a minimum of 145 degrees. But people may be to blame, with thousands of dip-netters swarming the shore as sockeye salmon surge into the river. Supported by parking fees, the city of Kenai has pumped an ever-increasing amount of funding into managing and facilitating the fishery over the years, including providing trash receptacles and portable restrooms to control waste.

A dip-netter carries a net and gear past Kenai Central High School ski team members picking up trash at the Kenai beach at the end of Spruce Street on Friday.

New last year were tubs for fish waste and trash barrels placed at regular intervals along the beach.

“From my perspective it gets a little better every year. I have noticed a difference this year as opposed to last year and the year before,” Gibson said. “The city works wonders, supplying garbage cans and totes for fish heads. It’s kind of catching on and people are better. (The city) makes leaps and bounds in what works and what doesn’t work.” Continue reading

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Kenai reds, more or less — Kenai sonar refigured to correct conversion mistake

By Jenny Neyman

Redoubt Reporter

For sport anglers fishing from the banks of the Kenai River or dip-netters wading into the muddy river mouth, sockeye salmon are easy to count — it’s one at a time, as each fish is reeled in or hauled by a net to shore.

For Alaska Department of Fish and Game biologists, tracking numbers of sockeye in the Kenai River is no simple matter. Several factors are involved — where the fish are in the river, the user group for which they are allocated and what technology is used to track them.

Since 2008, a sockeye at the Kenai River Mile 19 sonar station counts as 1.4 to Fish and Game, while, this year only, one sockeye caught in the upper Kenai counts as one, and only one, fish.

The difference is the result of an upgrade in sonar technology used to track sockeye escapement numbers in the Kenai, and a correction to the way those numbers are related to the Alaska Board of Fisheries’ intention to allocate a certain number of sockeye salmon in the upper river for sport fish harvest.

It’s mostly apples-to-apples, oranges-to-oranges scientific shuffling that doesn’t have a net effect on the fish or those fishing for them, but a few oranges of upriver sport fish-designated sockeye have gotten mixed up with the apples of the in-river escapement goal in past years, and a change to separate the two means 60,000-plus extra fish this year over the past two for fishermen to sink their hooks, nets and teeth into.

Up for the count

For the past eight years, Fish and Game has been working toward upgrading Bendix sonar technology, used in Alaska since the 1960s, to newer, more accurate dual-frequency identification sonar DIDSON technology. Bendix sonar had become so antiquated that it’s difficult to maintain, and the main individual who developed the system in the state has died, leaving no source of technical support, said Jeff Fox, area management biologist with Fish and Game.

Redoubt Reporter file photo. A computer monitor displays images of fish swimming in the Kenai River as recorded by a DIDSON sonar.

The switch to DIDSON is a statewide effort. On the Kenai Peninsula, DIDSON and Bendix sonar systems were used side by side in the Kenai and Kasilof rivers from 2004 to 2007 in order to compare accuracy. DIDSON sonar has a better ability to detect fish with better coverage of the water column. It has a longer range, higher power level, better interaction with boundary layers without losing fish images and a 29-degree field of view divided into several beams. DIDSON produces detailed fish images on a screen, can show direction of fish travel and the data can be stored and archived.

Bendix had between a 4-inch and 2-inch field of view, which missed many fish, especially close to shore. Its visual display was just a spike on an oscilloscope, which can be difficult to interpret and couldn’t be saved or stored. When a large glut of fish swam by, one spike on Bendix may actually have meant several fish.

It’s not that Bendix was junk, Fox said. It was cutting edge at the time it was developed and was a huge step up in the Kenai over the aerial surveys used to count fish before the 1960s.

“The average return in those days was 1 million fish. It’s now 4 million, so you can’t really say sonar didn’t help. It’s actually a very good tool,” Fox said. “The problem is it was developed when the escapement goal was 150,000 to 300,000. And then it got moved up to 250,000 to 400,000, then 400,000 to 700,000. So it’s not any stretch for it to have problems. It wasn’t developed for what we’re doing now.”

Fish and Game knew Bendix sonar wasn’t completely accurate and estimated an error range of 20 percent. But comparison with the DIDSON showed Bendix had actually been underestimating sockeye by more like 40 percent in the Kenai. That means one sonar count by Bendix is 1.4 as counted by DIDSON.

But even with DIDSON, the sonar count produced to estimate escapement isn’t each individual fish, because DIDSON isn’t a perfect system, either. It can’t detect every fish swimming by, especially if they’re in a large group, and can’t tell the difference between a small king or an early pink salmon and a sockeye. Fish and Game uses a fish wheel to check apportionment of the run — to estimate what percentage is sockeye versus other species. Species apportionment error isn’t much of a concern, Fox said, since small kings are relatively few and pinks don’t show up en masse until August, right around when the sockeye sonar counter is removed anyway. Continue reading

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Electrified idea — Good fences make good bears

By Joseph Robertia

Photo by Joseph Robertia, Redoubt Reporter. While hungry brown bears often turn their attention to local rivers once the salmon return, it is not uncommon for a few bruins to seek an easy meal by getting into livestock pens, smokehouses or beehives.

Redoubt Reporter

Seeing a hungry bear prowling private property seeking pets or livestock for an easy meal can be a shocking experience, but a new cost-sharing program to put up electric fences aims to reduce negative encounters between wildlife and private landowners.

“This cost-sharing is localized to the peninsula, too, due to the brown bears here being designated a species of special concern by the state. Because of that, we can use cost-sharing dollars to protect the population by providing an alternative to shooting them,” said Meg Mueller, a district conservationist with the Natural Resources Conservation Service field office in Kenai.

Under the auspices of the Natural Resources Conservation Service, the cost-sharing funds come through the Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program, re-authorized as part of the nation’s 2008 Farm Bill. Specifically, the project seeks to reduce potential up-close-and-personal interactions between people and bears at sites of human-induced bear attractants.

“Chicken coops, pigpens and other livestock areas, beehives, fish smokehouses, sheds with dog food or other animal feed — all of these are attractive items to hungry bears,” Mueller said. “And, since these things can’t be moved or taken indoors, a permanent electric fence around them can go a long way to reducing negative encounters.”

Bears spend as much as 80 percent of their waking day feeding or foraging for food. And it’s well-documented that when they are rewarded for their efforts with a fairly easy meal and experience no negative consequences while doing so, bears can quickly become habituated to the attractant. This can mean trouble to all parties.

“Sometimes encounters between humans and bears don’t turn out so well for people,” Mueller said. “But they almost never turn out well for the bear.”

When properly designed and installed, an electric fence provides an unpleasant experience to bears so that they quickly come to associate the attractant being off-limits.

“After receiving their first shock many bears appear to sense the electrical charge in the fence lines and learn to avoid them,” Mueller said. “Even the fence’s visual appearance can remind bears of their previous unpleasant encounter and they’ll avoid similar-appearing areas.”

When constructed by following the Natural Resources Conservation Service guidelines, these fences would be hard for a bear not to notice.

“The high visual appearance is as much a deterrent as the shock,” Mueller said. “So the fences should be 52 inches high with nine strands of highly visible wire, such as electrified tape or an electrified rope product like Electrobraid. The strands are affixed to permanent wooden posts, with each strand about 6 inches apart with every other one electrified.”

Site inventory and assessment is part of the technical assistance landowners will receive, in addition to the help with the purchase and installation of a fence. Cost-share funding will be based on the size of the area to be fenced off, the location on the peninsula and priority. Those living in remote areas with high frequencies of bear encounters will be given precedence.

Application packets can be obtained at the Natural Resource Conservation Service field office on Trading Bay Road in Kenai. For more information, call 283-8732 or e-mail Mueller at meg.mueller@ak.usda.gov.

“This is going to be a really good deal for the peninsula,” Mueller said. “Now that the word is getting out, we’re seeing a lot of interest.”

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Drawing near — Hunters taking aim on preseason practice

By Joseph Robertia

Photos by Joseph Robertia, Redoubt Reporter. Jake Lautaret, of Soldotna, takes aim at a caribou target during a weekend 3-D shoot hosted by the Kenai Peninsula Archers. Many hunters are using the KPA range off of ARC Loop Road south of Soldotna to tune up their skills before the bowhunting season begins.

Redoubt Reporter

Teeth bared, claws out, it stood on its hind legs not more than 34 yards away, and towered over the tallest hunter in the group.

“Look at that bear,” said David Powell, of Sterling, to his wife, Charlee. “Look at how big it is.”

The fluorescent pink of her arrows might have given the impression of novice, but it was clear when she drew back her compound bow that she knew what she was doing. The movement was fluid and precise, and she lined up the bear’s vital area in her sights. But, as she let the arrow fly, her trajectory was a little off. The shaft found a home in the bear’s neck to shoulder area.

“Now you just pissed him off,” quipped Ron Homan, of Kenai, from behind her. “It’s OK. I’ve had a few shots like that today, too.”

The three of them, along with Jake Lautaret, of Soldotna, were taking part in one of the Kenai Peninsula Archers 3-D shoot events in an effort to tune up their hunting skills before opening day of bowhunting season, which is fast approaching. Bowhunting for many species, especially in Game Management Unit 15, opens Aug. 10.

Len Malmquist, president of the archery club, said practicing before hunting season begins — particularly on 3-D targets — can greatly enhance a hunter’s chances for success. He cited a survey conducted among bowhunters across 12 different states in the Lower 48.

“It showed that if a hunter got out about two weeks before opening day and just plunked a few arrows, their odds of hunting success went up 1 to 2 percent. If they got out to practice a month before, it went up 5 percent. If they practice all year, it went up 25 to 35 percent,” he said. “But if they practice all year using 3-D targets, their success jumped up to 65 to 75 percent.”

Ron Homan, of Kenai, removes his arrows from a 3-D target, while Jake Lautaret steadies the doe.

The 3-D shoots are much more realistic compared to firing down a clear lane at a paper or bag target. Archers must contend with obscuring vegetation, sunlight and shadows, wind and mosquitoes, and shooting from various distances and occasionally various heights — all of which could be encountered in a real hunting scenario.

“We have 32 3-D targets, with about 14 out on any given weekend, and we’re constantly switching up the game species and how they’re put out,” Malmquist said.

There are Alaska species, such as moose, caribou, bear, Dall sheep and mountain goat, and there are others species, including deer, pronghorn, puma, peccary and turkey, for hunters who travel Outside in pursuit of game.

The 3-D targets aren’t cheap, according to Malmquist. He said the full-racked, full-sized, bull moose cost the archery club roughly $2,000, including shipping to Alaska. To the archers who use these targets for tuning up, though, the practice they’re getting is invaluable.

“It’s so much more challenging,” Charlee Powell said. “I do a lot of shooting at home in the backyard, but I’m just shooting from either 20 yards or 30 yards away. This is much different. I’m constantly having to adjust.”

Powell said she hopes to get good enough to hunt black bear with her husband, but she thinks it’ll still be awhile before she’s ready to let a flurry of feather-tailed shafts fly at a living target.

“I’m getting more comfortable,” she said, “but I think it won’t be until next season, at least.”

Like Powell, Lautaret said his goal is to get good enough with his bow and arrow to bring down real game.

“I’m just getting into archery,” he said. “I’ve been a rifle hunter a long time, but this seems more challenging, and it opens up a lot more hunting opportunities.”

Lautaret said he was taking to the bow and arrow quite quickly since, like Powell, he could practice regularly at home, which is not an option with his rifle. At the archery range, he hit several vital-organ shots on the 3-D targets, but said he knew hunting real animals would be much more difficult.

“You’ve got to get a lot closer than when using a rifle,” he said. “I think the stalk will be much more challenging. I’d like to bowhunt sheep and goat one day, but I’ll probably stick to moose for a while, and think about the other species as I get more experience.”

Ron Homan said this is another lesson hunters learn from the 3-D shoots — until they know they can kill with their bow and arrows, sometimes the best shot is the one not taken.

“It has to do with archery ethics,” he said. “If you’re going to do something like this where you kill an animal, you want to be sure you’re going to kill it, and that it’s a quick, clean kill.”

As hunting season draws near, Malmquist said more archers are drawing back their bows.

“Our membership is way up and growing each weekend,” he said. “We’re up to 171 members, which includes 22 families and 18 women.”

Malmquist said the Kenai Peninsula Archers are always looking for new members. Annual membership is $25 for individuals and $50 for families.

“We have the 3-D targets out most weekends from spring through fall, and members can come by and shoot the bag targets 24-seven, 365,” he said.

For more information, contact the club by calling 262-7375.

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Cooking up competition — Iron chefs go Dutch for camp cuisine event

By Jenny Neyman

Photos by Jenny Neyman, Redoubt Reporter. Dr. Nels Anderson, left, explains the Dutch oven cooking competition rules to judges, from left, Rep. Kurt Olson, Soldotna City Councilwoman Brenda Hartman and Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor Dave Carey.

Redoubt Reporter

One hungry onlooker Saturday summed it up best as contestants in the open category of the Alaska Dutch Oven State Championship plunked their cast-iron cook-pot creations down on the judging tables and removed the lids, revealing the still-steaming temptations within.

“I didn’t know you could make all that in a Dutch oven,” a woman remarked to her friend while checking out the myriad dishes served up in the competition, held during Progress Days in Soldotna.

“All that” is a broad term, not particularly in keeping with the precise measurements, exacting temperature control and practiced perfection that goes into cooking competitions. But in this case, it was fitting of the smorgasbord of results — cast-iron pots of bubbling jambalaya and creamy chicken fricassee. Swollen mounds of golden-brown bread, studded with savory flavors or dripping with sticky-sweet confection. And desserts to tempt even the most diet conscious — springy chocolate cakes dusted with powdered sugar or oozing with molten morsels; fruit crisps and cobblers with toppings unable to contain the bubbling juices below, and ooey-gooey goodness with more accoutrements than should be legally allowed in one dessert.

“It has everything decadent you can think of,” said Carla Anderson, of Soldotna, of her dessert offering, a chocolaty pudding topped with fruit crisp and chocolate bits, meant to be served with homemade vanilla ice cream and drizzled with cast-iron-cooked raspberry sauce.

Anderson participated in the competition but didn’t allow her dishes to be in the running for prizes, since she helped organize the event with her husband, Dr. Nels Anderson. It’s the first of what they hope will be an annual event at Progress Days, with the winner qualifying to participate in the International Dutch Oven Society’s World Championships. Anderson said he was pleased with how the inaugural event went. Despite intermittent rain and short notice for the event, there were still eight teams participating in the open, three-pot competition, and 10 in the youth, one-pot competition.

Fred Basquez and his wife, Sharron, of Milton-Freewater, Ore., changed their travel plans just so they could stay in Soldotna for the competition. They regularly cook in Dutch ovens while touring Alaska in an RV.

“I’m extremely pleased with the turnout. I was afraid nobody would show up,” Anderson said.

Adam Bauer came up from Homer to participate. He got into Dutch oven cooking from being involved with the Boy Scouts about a dozen years ago. Though his kids are off to college and he’s no longer a Scoutmaster, he still goes on camping trips and keeps up his camping cook skills.

“You know how it is, if I don’t go with them I don’t go,” Bauer said.

He wanted to support Andersons’ efforts in organizing the competition and spread the virtues of Dutch oven cooking to the uninitiated. For Bauer, Dutch ovens are the way to go for outdoor cooking.

He particularly likes them for their temperature control. Dutch ovens hold heat well yet it’s easy to turn up or down the temperature. Simply add a few more coals or charcoal briquettes on the lid or under the three stubby legs to increase the temperature, or remove them to turn it down. For a midsized, 12-inch Dutch oven, 27 briquettes will result in a temperature of 375 degrees, with 18 on top and nine underneath.

“I’m terrible with barbecue,” Bauer said. “It’s like the coals aren’t ready in time and they’re not hot enough and the meal’s late, or it’s too hot and you can’t turn it down again. This is a great way because you’ve got really good control over the heat and you can actually serve something on time. Anything you can cook in your oven at home you can make in these.”

For the competition, he made a chicken fricassee with homemade cheese and zucchini from his garden, a yeast-water-and-flour loaf of bread and a peach cobbler.

“I am absolutely pleased with the way everything turned out. It was just perfect. Everything came out on time, done and nothing got burnt. It’s hard to undo it when it’s overcooked,” he said. “It’s a lot of fun. I’m glad Dr. Anderson put it all together, and if there’s a next year, I’ll come back.” Continue reading

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Common Ground: Facebook or fishing? Hook into online fun away from computers

By Christine Cunningham, for the Redoubt Reporter

Photo courtesy of Christine Cunningham. Grayling fishing in alpine lakes is an experience that can’t be duplicated in cyberspace.

Reuniting with old friends, acquaintances or obscure not-for-profit special interest groups is what Facebook is all about. A yearbook kept in seconds and individualized to our egos can be dangerous, but I can’t help but notice that I’m in constant contact with people who would otherwise be lost.

For instance, a single road trip taken in the 1990s with a coffee shop co-worker is one of a number of life experiences that left no contact phone number. This chance encounter over a decade ago was recently recaptured and redefined in cyberspace. That old acquaintance and I are now “friends” on Facebook.

On Facebook, every day brings the possibility of a high school-like reunion. And, likewise, there are the inevitable questions asked at every high school or college reunion: Who gained weight, who married whom, who is now working as an “Ice Road Trucker?” I was as surprised to find that my friend was a historian and father living in New Mexico as he was to find that I was independently wealthy and experiencing the endless fishing vacation dreamed of by young boys and old men — except for the independently wealthy part.

Just as Facebook does not equal “Facetime,” corresponding with a long-lost friend using the equivalent of Post-it-size messages did not equal a spontaneous road trip to confer the idealism of youth. And, just as being friends is better in real life than in live chat, going fishing is not something that can be experienced virtually. There’s something about seeing the dorsal fins of grayling vying the surface waters in a high mountain creek, the water clear as vodka and the sun filling the valley so that the surrounding foliage and mountain flowers smolder, giving off an exotic and fermented aroma. Each cast into the water is the possibility of hooking one of the most acrobatic members of the salmon family.

The senses involved in the outdoors are, in the words of one Homer charter boat captain, “The difference between a prison life and getting to see ‘this’ every day.” The boat was passing the Barren Islands, the northernmost islands of the Kodiak Archipelago. I had always thought that, if a series of unfortunate events landed me in prison, it wouldn’t be “that” bad. I would read books and work out. I would write those letters I’d never got around to writing. Perhaps, depending on the degree of my offense, earn a law degree … . But after hearing the captain’s words, I realized to what extent the outdoors define freedom.

The terminology of Facebook is such that “online” means “logged in” instead of “fish on.” A “window” is a “rectangular display appearing on your screen,” instead of something that has a screen. “Account” is a personal, password-protected relationship between you and your network, and not the number of fish you’ve caught. The Internet is a place where we can find friends and the answers to questions in a matter of seconds — depending on our service provider. The endless source of information is all merged into one giant database, and a coaxial cable runs through it.

The high school-reunion world of social networking and easy answers has its appeal, but I will always prefer the world as Norman Maclean knew it — a world where he spent the moment before casting to wonder what the fish were thinking — something that Google cannot answer. And when I’m posting my “status update” on Facebook, I can’t help but think of Maclean’s definition of a Spot of Time: “Poets talk about ‘spots of time,’ but it is really fishermen who experience eternity compressed into a moment. No one can tell what a spot of time is until suddenly the whole world is a fish and the fish is gone. I shall remember that son of a bitch forever.”

Christine Cunningham was born in Alaska and has lived on the Kenai Peninsula for the last 20 years, where she enjoys fishing, hunting and outdoors recreation. She can be reached at christineemal@hotmail.com.

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Winging It: Birds, bears, belugas — oh my!

By Sean Ulman, for the Redoubt Reporter

Photo courtesy of Sean Ulman. Sadie Ulman scouts the Chickaloon River off Turnagain Arm for birds, but recently had sightings of beluga whales and seals.

July 17-18 — Reinforced by Kenai National Wildlife Refuge bio intern recruits, we reaped the statistical rewards of our first four-man crews — doing double-plot surveys and trapping nine birds.

We watched two short-billed dowitcher chicks — nubby-winged puffballs with lichen-camo-speckled fuzz — feeding alongside their parents.

Four marvelous black brant flew into Chickaloon and foraged and preened on the misty shore. When predicting new sightings prior to our 2010 season, I pointed out canvasback (I had seen a pair from our car at nearby Potter’s Marsh in 2009) and black brant (which can be seen in Bird Babylonia’s 2009 production, “Lady Liberty.”)

A new species neither of us thought about calling — northern shrike — was added to our project list three days later. A technician and I spotted one on Plot 2 perched on a bare spruce tree, where a week ago a brown bear was spotted hanging around with two cubs.

After scanning over paw prints and scat, which a flood tide had scattered with seaweed, we scrutinized the hook-billed predatory songbird — black mask, black wing lapel, black bobbing mimidlike tail.

July 19-20 — Camping two nights at Chickaloon River, that mighty, murky chasm carving the flats in two, we found several new wildlife species that utilize the marine river habitat.

Vole. Red fox. Coincidence? Pink salmon. Harbor seals. Hmm … .

It’s solid birding on the river plot, too. I saw seven whimbrel and six pectoral sandpipers.

Staying four nights instead of two at the river, Sadie saw a lot of birds (and beasts, too). I considered paraphrasing or passing off her sightings as my own, but it’s only right to let her tell. So I stole the following notes from her journal:

July 21 — Noticed white crests appear in a sliver of river about a kilometer away. Knowing that belugas come up the Chickaloon to feed during high tides, I was anticipating their arrival. We worked our way toward the shore, negotiating the incoming water on the slough fingers.

Watched the belugas quick, graceful surface and dive. Seeing three bright whites and four off-white/gray at one time leads me to believe there were at least double that, maybe a dozen?

Watched the whales feed for 20 minutes until they slowly made their way around the bend in the river. After doing vegetation survey and negotiating another slough, we popped up two hours later toward the inlet. It was 17:14, peak high tide and the belugas (maybe the same pod?) were cruising back out to the inlet. This time we were standing in the mud with water at our feet. The white crests eased by us unaware. They usually aren’t diving with humans 15 feet away. After standing shoreside for a while, we retired 20 meters to sit on the vegetated edge to watch this dinner theater play out.

Survey started at 19:45 at the mud. This seems to be the gathering spot of the evening — 31 black-bellied plovers, 29 semipalmated plovers, 14 Hudsonian godwits, seven red-necked phalarope, six black turnstone, 33 least sandpipers, 14 semipalmated sandpipers, eight Western sandpipers, flock of 110 peeps in distance, six Arctic terns.

A mirage hauled out on the next substantial gut mouth was a blob of harbor seals — 30 to 40? By the time I edged closer to distinguish one blob from another, the whole group was gone, returning with the outflowing water to the (Turnagain) Arm. Continue reading

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