alaska coast

Success for the sea otter!

Sea otters were once locally extinct from the Washington coast, but in 1969 and 1970, 59 sea otters were relocated there from Alaska. These otters have thrived: today more than 1,800 individuals call the Washington coast home! Most of them live in the waters of Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary. 

Each year, researchers survey the population – the 2016 census was organized by U.S. Fish and Wildlife and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, with assistance from volunteers and staff from the sanctuary, Seattle Aquarium, and Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium. One large raft of over 600 sea otters was observed off the mouth of the Hoh River! 

(Photo: NOAA)

President Obama announced on Tuesday what he called a permanent ban on offshore oil and gas drilling along wide areas of the Arctic and the Atlantic Seaboard as he tried to nail down an environmental legacy that cannot quickly be reversed by Donald J. Trump.

Mr. Obama invoked an obscure provision of a 1953 law, the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, which he said gives him the authority to act unilaterally. While some presidents have used that law to temporarily protect smaller portions of federal waters, Mr. Obama’s declaration of a permanent drilling ban from Virginia to Maine on the Atlantic and along much of Alaska’s coast is breaking new ground. The declaration’s fate will almost certainly be decided by the federal courts.

“It’s never been done before,” said Patrick Parenteau, a professor of environmental law at the University of Vermont. “There is no case law on this. It’s uncharted waters.”

The move — considered creative by supporters and abusive by opponents — is one of many efforts by Mr. Obama to protect the environmental policies he can from a successor who has vowed to roll them back. The president, in concert with United Nations leaders, rushed countries to ratify the Paris Agreement on climate change, putting the multinational accord into force in record time, before Mr. Trump’s inauguration.

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Happy Earth Day 2015 from the BLM!

Enjoy a snapshot of your amazing public lands - #noplacelikehome.

Whether you #hike #ride #climb #bike or #volunteer, share your own nature photos today with tag #NatureSelfie.
Plant and animal DNA suggests first Americans took the coastal route
Life came to ice-free Canadian corridor too late to sustain migrations of Clovis and pre-Clovis people.

Archaeologists need a new theory for the colonization of the Americas. Plant and animal DNA buried under two Canadian lakes squashes the idea that the first Americans traveled through an ice-free corridor that extended from Alaska to Montana.

The analysis, published online in Nature on 10 August and led by palaeo­geneticist Eske Willerslev of the University of Copenhagen, suggests that the passageway became habitable 12,600 years ago1. That’s nearly 1,000 years after the formation of the Clovis culture — once thought to be the first Americans — and even longer after other, pre-Clovis cultures settled the continents.

Some 14,000 years ago, as North America was emerging from the last Ice Age, twin glaciers that blanketed central Canada receded, creating the ice-free corridor before the appearance of Clovis people across what is now the central United States. “That coincidence seemed too powerful to ignore,” says archaeologist and co-author David Meltzer of Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. “People who have been cooling their heels in Alaska for thousands of years see this new land open up and they come blasting down this corridor into the new world.”

Persistent idea

The ice-free-corridor theory began to crack in the 1990s, when researchers made a case that humans lived at Monte Verde in Chile more than 14,000 years ago. The discovery of other possible pre-Clovis sites in North America further shook the theory that Clovis people were the first Americans. But the idea that their ancestors at least trekked through the corridor persisted, says Meltzer, even though there was little consensus on when the passage opened or when it became habitable. “It’s 1,500 kilometres. You can’t pack a lunch and do it in a day.”

To build a picture of the habitat as it crept out of the Ice Age, Willerslev’s team analysed DNA in cores taken from beneath two lakes in what was the last stretch of the corridor to melt. The first plant life — thin grasses and sedges — dates back just 12,600 years. The region later became lusher, with sagebrush, buttercups and even roses, followed by willow and poplar trees. This habitat attracted bison first, and later mammoths, elk, voles and the occasional bald eagle. Around 11,500 years ago, the corridor began to resemble the pine and spruce boreal forests of today’s landscape.

The region’s bounty must eventually have tempted hunter-gatherers. But the dates rule out its use as a corridor by Clovis people and earlier Americans to colonize the Americas, says Willerslev. Instead, both probably skirted the Pacific coast, perhaps by boat.

Loren Davis, an archaeologist at Oregon State University in Corvallis, agrees: “Now that the ice-free corridor has been shown to be dead in the water — no pun intended — we can start to look at something like a coastal migration route.”

Other recent research has hinted that Clovis people and other early humans could not have moved through the ice-free corridor. In June, a team led by Beth Shapiro, an evolutionary palaeobiologist at the University of California, Santa Cruz, sequenced ancient DNA from bison that lived to the north and south of the passageway and found that these populations were cut off from each other during the last Ice Age until at least 13,000–13,400 years ago, when they started mixing again2. Shapiro, too, now favours the theory of a coastal migration route for humans.

Pacific pit stops

Discovering sites along these routes won’t be easy, because most are now likely to be underwater. But this summer, Davis and his colleagues began surveying areas of the Pacific Ocean, such as former bays and estuaries that might have served as pit stops for the first Americans. In 2017, the team will start to collect marine sediments to look for signs of habitation, such as stone artefacts or ancient human DNA.

Willerslev hopes to be part of the searches, and thinks that recreating these once-coastal habitats through DNA sequencing could prove to be a valuable tool. The fact that early humans advanced to the Americas despite continent-sized glaciers standing in the way has also prompted him to rethink the conventional wisdom that early humans, like other animals, migrated solely in search of food.

“Just like people today are trying to reach the top of Mount Everest or the South Pole, I’m sure these hunter-gatherers were also explorers and curious about what would be on the other side of these glacier caps,” he says. “When you first reach California, why would you go further? Why not just stay in the Bay Area?”

Just finished reading “Ice Massacre” by Tiana Warner, a self-published author on Amazon. And it is amazing! The story is original, the characters are complex and interesting, and Tiana is brilliant at building tension. Best book I’ve read so far this year. Waaaay better than what you can find at publishers these days (who, unfortunately, are too afraid of taking chances.)

Plot summary: The novel is about 18-year old Meela who lives on Erina Kwai (an imaginary island outside the coast of Alaska). The people of Erina Kwai are experiencing a famine, because the ocean has been invaded by bloodthirsty mermaids who kill anyone who dears venture into the waters. Each year the Island sends young men to battle the hostile sea demons, and every year they fail to return. Desperate for survival the Island comes up with a new strategy. They are going to send women instead, as women are not perceptible to the mermaids’ allure. Only problem is, they hadn’t accounted for lesbians.

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Bears - Katmai National Park

The Mantis Shrimp Shades part 1

“It is said that the Mantis shrimp has 16 color receptical cones in its eyes, 13 more than humans have, allowing it to see thousands more colors than any human ever could.”

Hundreds of years ago while fishing for king crab near the coast of Alaska a large clam was caught on top of some of the largest king crab ever caught on record. The men responsible for the catch would later describe in their stories that it appeared as though they were carrying the massive clam. The clam was a wavy mixture of Prussian blue and tyrian purple and had strange symbols on the top carved into the shell and filled with gold.

The Clam was donated to a local museum where marine biologists would document that it was very odd to have been found so far from the coast of Malaysia and given that it was a matured adult giant clam it was completly smooth apart from its symbols. No algae or other life was growing on the outside. And nomatter what they did it remained closed.the symbols were studied greatly and bore a vauge resemblance to that of Egyptian hyroglyphics and other symbol based forms of writing. But no correct translation ever was discovered. The shell was indestructible and it appeared that the clam itself living inside could go on living regardless of environment or conditions. It was put on display in the national museum of marine life and aquarium in taiwan.

A 17 year old girl on an ovenight field trip with her class to the museum got up in the middle of the night to sneak a better look at the shell. It happened that there was to be a lunar eclipse that night. Without a cloud in the sky and with a window above to shine in the light, at exactly 3:33 in the morning when nothing but the sound of water is rolling through the museum the clam begins to open. The girl stands in stunned silence as this mystery of the sea begins to defy all that was previously recorded of it and opens its mouth. The inside is a magnificent radiance of deep reds and rippling greens and oranges and pinks constantly changing like that of a flamboyant cuttlefish. There’s a hole in the middle of it. Large enough to put a hand through. Presumably for eatting. But there was a glint of light for just a moment within the dark hole in its mouth. Caught by a ray of dimmed red moonlight. It took caught the girls eye and she mustered up the courage to reach in and grab hold of whatever it was knowing the slow closing time of clams mouth. It felt peculiar to have her hand inside a clams insides. But she grabbed the item she saw and pulled her hand out quickly. It immediatly closed the moment she had her hand out. As silently as it had opened. As if nothing had happened.

Finally snapping back to reality after taking in everything that had just happened she looked down to her hand that held the item. It was a magnificent pair of shades unlike any that had ever been seen. The lenses were a swirl of every color she could have imagained and the shape was that of octagons. The frames around them were a tarnished gold and The tip ear pieces were made of turquoise. they looked incredibly flimsy but she found that the frames were the strongest she had ever seen. She looked around the room again to be sure that no one had woken and gone in search of her and then ran to the bathroom. Even though it wasn’t necessarily the right time for shades she slowly rose them to her face in front of a mirror to see what was to be seen through shades found in a mystic clam…..


In 1874, when the painter and naturalist Henry Wood Elliott was observing a small crowd of walruses on the Punuk Islands off Alaska’s coast, he was preoccupied with the appearance of their pustules and the precise texture of their skins.

“The longer I looked at them the more heightened was my disgust; for they resembled distorted, mortified, shapeless masses of flesh,” he wrote. Almost off-handedly, he noted their number — around 150, all male — before pondering their resemblance to “so many gnomes or demons of fairy romance.”

Now Elliott’s musings have been translated into a new sort of language:

“Latitude: 63.08049. Longitude: -168.80936. … more than 150 male walruses hauling out here during August of 1874.”

For the first time, scientists have built a single database showing where Pacific walruses have gathered for the past 160 years, including sites along both the Russian and Alaskan coasts. The tool, which was published last month, will be used to protect vulnerable animals. (You can download it here, and view it in Google Earth or other mapping programs.)

And it’s all thanks to Native hunters, Victorian explorers, aerial observers, anthropologists, biologists, geologists, conservationists and librarians.

What Does It Take To Map A Walrus Hangout? 160 Years And A Lot Of Help

Images: Ryan Kingsbery/USGS, Lisa Charlotte Rost/NPR and Wikimedia

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Pod of whales surfacing to feed off the coast of Alaska. Look how many there are!