August 14, 2010

The Weir

Auke Creek--looking towards the ocean

Every morning for work the first place that I go is to the weir to count sockeye (and all the other types of fish mentioned in the last post).
The weir spans Auke Creek entirely, and the only spot where fish are able to move upstream or downstream is through a little (1 foot) opening that leads into a big trap.  This allows us to get an exact count of all the fish moving up the creek.  In the winter the weir is in the downstream position, and all of the out-migrating fish can be counted.

Auke Creek--looking toward the lake.

Auke Creek is a fairly short creek that drains Auke Lake, and runs into Auke Bay.  The weir is located just above tidewater.  The salmon are collected into the trap and once or twice a day we come down and count them and take a tissue sample to extract DNA from.  Then they are released into the creek on the upstream side of the weir to go spawn.

The trap.  It is about 12x24 feet.  I could go back and take a picture that is in focus--but I probably won't.
Fishes in the creek--upstream side. 
So that's the weir.  It's not a bad place to wake up (most mornings).  There are eagles that hang out there, and berries, and it is quiet and forested, and until recently it even smelled good.  Now, not so much.  But the live salmon aren't rotten yet, so that's a plus. 

Now I am gonna go play.  It is a gorgeous Saturday that is supposed to hit 80F, and we are going to hang out at a beach barbecue, and go hiking, and other fun stuff.

And I will go buy shoes another day, when it is raining.  I have a pair picked out though, I swear.

Also, it is salmon derby weekend, which seems to be some sort of weird holiday here.  It pretty much means that we can't go kayaking, even though the water is supposed to be perfect.  Oh well, we will have all winter to go out in the boats.

August 10, 2010

And just like that, it is raining.
And we turned the heat on.

So now I will have plenty of time to babble on about my life to you all.

And now its time for 5 things make a post:

  • As I turned on the highway this afternoon, on my way home from work, a little black bear bounded out of the bushes, saw that I was there, milled around on the side of the road like he found something interesting, then galloped across the road as soon as I passed him.
  • I love Alaska!!
  • Every morning for work the first thing I do is check the fish weir.  There have been a couple hundred fish holding in the trap the last few days.  The species:  Pink salmon (Oncorhynchus  gorbuscha), Sockeye salmon (O. nerka), Chum salmon (O. keta), and some Dolly Varden (Salvelinus malma malma), and Cutthroat trout (O. clarki).  We should get a king salmon (O. tshawytscha) or two in soon, but it is too early for coho yet (O. kisutch).  
  • The pinks are the main research subject of one of the grad students, I work on sockeye, and the chum are all strays from a hatchery called DIPAC.
  • Tonight we went out and ate mexican food, and it didn't suck nearly as much as I remember!  It is still impossible to get a burrito in this town though.
That's all!

August 09, 2010

Juneau Summer

Juneau is beautiful. 
It is a tiny (relatively) strip of land that is surrounded on all sides by magnificence. 
There are trees, and mountains, and forests, and wildlife surrounding us all of the time.
And mostly, the people that live here know it is beautiful.

But Juneau is also in a rainforest.  Statistically, any day is more likely to be rainy than not, and even if the rain isn't falling, it is a fair bet that the clouds are edging their way towards sea level, sometimes sneaking down the mountains, while other times things disappear into the fog before you even noticed it was there.
It's as if someone is lowering the ceiling.
The fog swirling along the mountains and forests can be breathtaking too.  And even, sometimes, rain is beautiful (actually I usually think it is pretty, I am just guessing at how others may feel).

But it doesn't take long for people to forget what is behind the clouds.  Yeah, they can look at pictures, but pictures are never the same as the whole view.
And people go on about their lives, knowing where they are, but not thinking about what is obscured by the mist.

Luckily, rain doesn't last forever, and eventually the mist is burned away to expose the complete landscape.  And even though we knew it was there all along, somehow we had forgotten the details.  And the colors, and the views, and the feeling that someone is opening your cage to release you is quite intoxicating. 
Summers are short in Alaska, and when it is sunny the residents are driven to absorb every precious minute of it.  Every sunny day at work we remind ourselves that this could be the last day of summer, no matter the month, and we should enjoy it now.  There will be plenty of time to accomplish things in the winter, and anyway it is nearly impossible to be productive with the sun shining in the windows.

It is fair to say that I hated summers in Portland.  I dreaded them for months beforehand, and hibernated in the basement during the hot spells.

But Juneau summers have meaning to me.  They are things to enjoy.

So that is why I don't post when the sun is out, or answer my emails quickly. 
I am out hiking, or kayaking, or sitting on the beach absorbing every possible moment of the sun (note:  this is different than getting a tan, the sun is usually too far away to burn even me).

Summer won't last forever, and even now the darkness is gaining. . .

August 03, 2010

For mama

                                               Die sicht auf der Gletscher ist fabelhaft.

Hi everyone.  The weather is great around here right now, but I have failed to take many pictures.  Posting will resume with the rain.  We have been spending a lot of time around the glacier, trying to avoid the tourists that are trucked there by the bus load.
I hope everyone's lives are going well.