A new season of wildlife on Wednesdays

A new season of Wildlife Wednesdays, hosted by the Southeast chapter of the Alaska Wildlife Alliance, begins this month.

First up on Oct. 7 is a pair of Juneau Empire outdoors writers: freelancer Bjorn Dihle and, um, me. We’ll be talking about outdoor adventures in Southeast, Yukon and the Arctic, sharing some photos and discussing how experiences with wildlife affect our creative process, both for nonfiction and for fiction. We also plan on reading some brief excerpts, both published and unpublished.

The second speaker, on Nov. 4, is local naturalist, author and photographer Bob Armstrong. He is a former Alaska Department of Fish and Game biologist and University of Alaska Southeast professor. Armstrong will be talking about the frequently fascinating ways adults of many species care for their young.

He plans to especially focus on animals he has videos of, Armstrong said.

He’ll talk about marmots (the dad has it easy), how deer clean their young to make them less attractive to predators, stickleback, beavers, mergansers, and even wolf spiders, ants and bees.

“Some of it’s really fascinating,” he said. “I’ve tried to document their behavior in videos, which I think makes it more interesting than a still photo…. Some of it will be, perhaps, new information… I think people will enjoy it.”

Other speakers and times are:

• Photographer Michael Phelps will speak Dec. 2 on photographing Alaska’s wildlife.

• Karin McCoy, an Alaska Department of Fish and Game wildlife biologist, will talk about Sitka black-tailed deer Jan. 6.

• ADF&G Juneau Area biologist Stephanie Sell will discuss her four years at Walrus Islands State Game Sanctuary in Bristol Bay on Feb. 3.

That’s how she started her career with Fish and Game. “You learn so much about walrus just by watching them,” Sell said.

Some of her jobs in her four seasons — about 16 months — at the sanctuary were daily counts of walrus and sea lions, looking out for different birds and observing the flora.

Round Island, the main haul-out in the sanctuary, is “kind of like a big bachelor pad,” she said. Females and calves follow the ice north, and the males stay behind.

“They’re very gregarious,” she said. “I think they’re amazing creatures, and they hold a special place in my heart, for sure.”

The final speaker of the season will be Heidi Pearson, assistant professor of marine biology at UAS. Pearson studies “blue carbon” ecosystems, which marine mammals help create.

All Wildlife Wednesday talks are on the first Wednesday of the month from 7-8 p.m. at the Thunder Mountain High School library. All are free, with snacks provided.

• Contact Juneau Empire outdoors writer Mary Catharine Martin at maryc.martin@juneauempire.com.

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