Alaska Outdoors

A platypus in the Sydney Aquarium chases fish and crayfish in this photo available under a Creative Commons license. (Alan Wolf / Flickr)

On the Trails: The eclectic marvels of electric ecology

What do a platypus, salamander and dolphin have in common?

A platypus in the Sydney Aquarium chases fish and crayfish in this photo available under a Creative Commons license. (Alan Wolf / Flickr)
UAA associate professor of public health Philippe Amstislavski collects samples of some of the fungi found in the forests around UAA which are similar to those his team has used to develop a lightweight packaging alternative to Styrofoam. (Courtesy Photo / James R. Evans, University of Alaska Anchorage)

Alaska Science Forum: Home insulation from wood and fungus

Alaska researchers are working to create insulation that removes carbon from the atmosphere.

UAA associate professor of public health Philippe Amstislavski collects samples of some of the fungi found in the forests around UAA which are similar to those his team has used to develop a lightweight packaging alternative to Styrofoam. (Courtesy Photo / James R. Evans, University of Alaska Anchorage)
A classical orb-web, strung between twigs; this one seems to have collected water drops, making it conspicuous. (Courtesy Photo / Scott Foster)

On the Trails: Spider webs and the ‘amazing stuff’ they’re made of

An abs-orb-ing read.

A classical orb-web, strung between twigs; this one seems to have collected water drops, making it conspicuous. (Courtesy Photo / Scott Foster)
A bull moose looks at a photographer near Whitehorse, Yukon, in summer 2022. (Courtesy Photo / Ned Rozell)

Alaska Science Forum: The man who knew moose like no other

Vic Van Ballenberghe had stood amid their knobby legs for many springs and falls in Interior Alaska.

A bull moose looks at a photographer near Whitehorse, Yukon, in summer 2022. (Courtesy Photo / Ned Rozell)
The author's wife navigates a steep section of the secret deer hunting spot that has been objectively underwhelming, but subjectively epic-in-the-making. Hopefully. (Jeff Lund / For the Juneau Empire)

I Went to the Woods: Subjective facts and truth

I find what I want to find and proclaim certainty. This is not helpful.

The author's wife navigates a steep section of the secret deer hunting spot that has been objectively underwhelming, but subjectively epic-in-the-making. Hopefully. (Jeff Lund / For the Juneau Empire)
An eagle has captured an egg-laden female coho in Steep Creek and is about to gulp down a cluster of eggs. (Courtesy Photo / Jos Bakker)

On the Trails: October observations of fall foraging

Where is everybody?

An eagle has captured an egg-laden female coho in Steep Creek and is about to gulp down a cluster of eggs. (Courtesy Photo / Jos Bakker)
Kelsey Aho holds a jar of clay she collected while fishing for hooligan on Turnagain Arm near Anchorage in 2021. (Courtesy Photo / Kelsey Aho)

Alaska Science Forum: Grains of Alaska made into art

“I can hand a piece of the Yukon River or Mendenhall Glacier to someone thousands of miles away…”

Kelsey Aho holds a jar of clay she collected while fishing for hooligan on Turnagain Arm near Anchorage in 2021. (Courtesy Photo / Kelsey Aho)
In this May 24, 2019, photo, teachers and students from Northwest Montessori School in Seattle examine the carcass of a gray whale after it washed up on the coast of Washington's Olympic Peninsula, just north of Kalaloch Campground in Olympic National Park. U.S. researchers say the number of gray whales off western North America has continued to fall over the last two years, a decline that resembles previous population swings over the past several decades. According to an assessment by NOAA Fisheries released Friday, Oct. 7, 2022, the most recent count put the population at 16,650 whales — down 38% from its peak in 2015-16. (AP Photo / Gene Johnson)

Gray whale population off western U.S. continues to decline

The most recent count put the population at 16,650 whales — down 38% from its peak in 2015-16.

In this May 24, 2019, photo, teachers and students from Northwest Montessori School in Seattle examine the carcass of a gray whale after it washed up on the coast of Washington's Olympic Peninsula, just north of Kalaloch Campground in Olympic National Park. U.S. researchers say the number of gray whales off western North America has continued to fall over the last two years, a decline that resembles previous population swings over the past several decades. According to an assessment by NOAA Fisheries released Friday, Oct. 7, 2022, the most recent count put the population at 16,650 whales — down 38% from its peak in 2015-16. (AP Photo / Gene Johnson)
Sockeye salmon return to Steep Creek to spawn. According to data provided by the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute in its latest update, the statewide preliminary harvest is estimated to be more than 153 million salmon — across all species — caught during the 14 weeks spanning mid-June to mid-September that the data was analyzed. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)
Sockeye salmon return to Steep Creek to spawn. According to data provided by the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute in its latest update, the statewide preliminary harvest is estimated to be more than 153 million salmon — across all species — caught during the 14 weeks spanning mid-June to mid-September that the data was analyzed. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)
A developing willow rose shows brilliant red on a background of still-mostly-green willow leaves. (Mary F. Willson / For the Juneau Empire)

On the Trails: Local color in late September

Golden cottonwoods, yellow willow leaves, and the red/pink/yellow leaves of highbush cranberry.

A developing willow rose shows brilliant red on a background of still-mostly-green willow leaves. (Mary F. Willson / For the Juneau Empire)
“Hurricane Hal” Needham smiles on a benign day on a Galveston, Texas, beach. The extreme weather and disaster scientist for CNC Catastrophe & National Claims recently drove to a parking garage in southwest Florida to document Hurricane Ian. (Courtesy Photo / Hal Needham)

Alaska Science Forum: Alaska megastorms vs. East Coast hurricanes

Unlike the giant storm that hit Alaska in mid-September, hurricanes and typhoons both have eyes.

“Hurricane Hal” Needham smiles on a benign day on a Galveston, Texas, beach. The extreme weather and disaster scientist for CNC Catastrophe & National Claims recently drove to a parking garage in southwest Florida to document Hurricane Ian. (Courtesy Photo / Hal Needham)
The author grew up near this mountain, but never hiked it until he moved home in 2013 and started hunting. (Jeff Lund / For the Juneau Empire)

I Went to the Woods: A look in the archives

Reading old writing is an experience.

The author grew up near this mountain, but never hiked it until he moved home in 2013 and started hunting. (Jeff Lund / For the Juneau Empire)
A bracket fungus exudes guttation drops and a small fly appears to sip one of them.( Courtesy Photo / Bob Armstrong)

On the Trails: Water drops on plants

Guttation drops contain not only water but also sugars, proteins, and probably minerals.

A bracket fungus exudes guttation drops and a small fly appears to sip one of them.( Courtesy Photo / Bob Armstrong)
The hoverfly can perceive electrical fields around the edges of the petals, the big white stigma, and the stamens. (Courtesy Photo / Bob Armstrong)

On the Trails: Electric flowers and platform plants

You cannot see it, it’s electric.

The hoverfly can perceive electrical fields around the edges of the petals, the big white stigma, and the stamens. (Courtesy Photo / Bob Armstrong)
On Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in 2018, biologist Jesika Reimer releases a little brown bat with a radio transmitter on its back. (Courtesy Photo / James Evans, University of Alaska Anchorage)

Alaska Science Forum: Where do Alaska bats spend the winter?

I think bats do hibernate in interior Alaska…”

On Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in 2018, biologist Jesika Reimer releases a little brown bat with a radio transmitter on its back. (Courtesy Photo / James Evans, University of Alaska Anchorage)
There are many ways to document a hunt, but the one that simply gets the most views, might not be the best for hunting. (Courtesy Photo / Jeff Lund)

I Went to the Woods: Hunting in the ‘like’ era

Loud and outrageous have become the recipe for sports commentary.

There are many ways to document a hunt, but the one that simply gets the most views, might not be the best for hunting. (Courtesy Photo / Jeff Lund)
During a recent open house, visitors walk their dogs beneath an antenna field used to heat the upper atmosphere during space physics experiments at a facility known as HAARP between Glennallen and Tok. (Courtesy Photo / Ned Rozell)

Alaska Science Forum: An attempt to demystify the mysterious

A topic worth HAARP-ing on.

During a recent open house, visitors walk their dogs beneath an antenna field used to heat the upper atmosphere during space physics experiments at a facility known as HAARP between Glennallen and Tok. (Courtesy Photo / Ned Rozell)
A beaver pauses on top of its dam.(Courtesy Photo / Chuck Caldwell)

On the Trails: All about beavers

Leave it to ‘em.

A beaver pauses on top of its dam.(Courtesy Photo / Chuck Caldwell)
This photo shows a view of Manhattan from the window seat of a New York to Seattle flight. (Courtesy Photo / Ned Rozell)
This photo shows a view of Manhattan from the window seat of a New York to Seattle flight. (Courtesy Photo / Ned Rozell)
The author looks over a mountain near Ketchikan in the late evening sun on an alpine deer hunt. (Courtesy Photo / Abby Lund)

I Went to the Woods: Turning the corner

The corner from summer to fall is a casual turn.

The author looks over a mountain near Ketchikan in the late evening sun on an alpine deer hunt. (Courtesy Photo / Abby Lund)