Today’s post comes from some information that just recently passed across my desk. It has to do with an undesirable species of fish that is currently running rampant in Alaskan waters. The species of which I speak is the northern pike. Pike are top-level predators in aquatic food chains and are highly piscivorous (fish eating).
Northern pike are a native species in a big part of Alaska but they never existed in South Central and South Eastern Alaska until they were illegally introduced into these waters around 50 years ago. They have adapted very well and by 2010, they have been found in almost 100 different lakes and in over 30 different rivers and streams. They are decimating the native trout and salmon populations in these areas.
In the parts of Alaska that historically had the native northern pike, there are many species of fish and these species are more adapted to living with and being preyed on by the northern pike while in the new areas, trout and salmon are the main species found and they are being wiped out by the pike. The Alaska Fish and Game website goes so far as to say that the pike have totally wiped out the trout and salmon in some of these waters.
In 2010, Alaska declared war on these out of area pike by removing bag limits on them, adding new catch methods including spearing and bowfishing, and by creating public awareness about them. They have created brochures such as the one linked below and even have created a 34 minute video outlining catch methods and locations where pike may be found in abundance in South Central Alaska. They sell this video for $10 at Fish and Game offices in Anchorage, Palmer, Soldotna, and Homer.
Currently there are few options for getting rid of pike once they have invaded an area. The methods available are public fishing and netting. Netting is not an extremely effective method of control because the areas that pike prefer are the shallow weedy type areas that are hard to net. These two methods combined help to keep the numbers of pike low enough that the trout and salmon have a chance to compete.
The only other methods of control are to completely drain a lake which is almost never a possibility, or to use a chemical called rotenone which kills ALL fish in the water treated with it. This also is not a preferable option although it is used at times as a last resort.
All transport of live fish from one area to another has been outlawed in Alaska, including the use and possession of live minnows in all fresh water fishing. Herring and other non-sport fish may still be used as bait in salt-water fishing in the same water in which it was caught.
Use the links below for more information on these topics.
In fact, Alaska has over 100,000 glaciers. In spite of this large number, only 5% of the state’s landmass in covered in ice. Alaska has some very favorable conditions that lead to the formation and preservation of glacial ice. Yes, cold temperatures are a part of it but also needed are favorable wind currents, mountains, and the right amount of humidity. Alaska has just the right combination of these critical conditions.
Glaciers once covered a large part of the northern part of the Earth. Over thousands of years they have gradually retreated to a relatively small number and area. Glaciers are formed by an accumulation of snow that never melts. Over many years,, the snow gets deeper and finally, with the weight and pressure, it becomes a glacier.
Glaciers “flow” downhill, just like a river does. Where they reach the ocean, large chunks of ice breaks off of the bottom end of the glacier and fall into the sea. This is what is called “calving”. Sometimes these blocks of ice are the size of buildings.
The color of glacial ice varies from white to a deep blue, depending on the thickness of the ice, the density, and the composition of the ice. Generally, they appear deep blue from a distance. My first ever sighting of a glacier was from the window of my Alaska Airlines flight from Seattle to Juneau. It was an impressive sight from the air.
The Hubbard Glacier near Yakut has the largest calving face of all of the glaciers in Alaska. Its calving face is 6 miles long. It is still growing, getting larger and longer every year. The Mendenhall Glacier near Juneau can be seen from town and gets lots of visitors each year. It is part of the Juneau Icefield that is about 1500 square miles in size and feeds 38 glaciers of which the Mendenhall is one. Glacier Bay Park is a very popular attraction along the Inside Passage for the cruise ships, kayakers, and for the flightseers (people who hire a plane to fly them over the glaciers for the purpose of seeing and photographing them from the air).
Flightseeing, helicopter tours, charter boats and kayaking and on-glacier ground tours are among the many options available to visitors who want to see the icefields and glaciers. Most of the glaciers have been made into National parks and will have their own ranger station. These ranger stations will have lots of information on the best ways to visit and experience the glaciers within their jurisdiction. Contact them for ideas and information on how to have the best time at their glacier. The Alaskan part of the National Park system can be found HERE
Glaciers are a fascinaing part of nature. They are interesting to see and to study. They have played a large role in the history of the world, being involved in the evolution of many of the species of plant and animal life that are or have been found on the Earth. They might be worth a little of your time during your next fishing trip to Alaska.
Over the past few years my interest in and fascination with Alaskan fishing has grown. I find that my attention is constantly caught by items in the news and on the internet that pertain not only to Alaskan fishing but also to Alaska in general.
I am interested in gold mining in Alaska. The glaciers interest and fascinate me. Whenever oil or petroleum in Alaska is mentioned, I always listen more closely to the news. My attention is also grasped by many of the scenic and nature related attractions of Alaska, some of which I have personally seen and many of which I have not yet experienced but someday hope to be able to see, experience and participate in.
I have experienced just a little bit of the beauty, grandeur, and of the vast natural resources (aka fish) 😉 that are to be found in Alaska and these things have touched me on a deeply personal level. While I will probably never leave my established home and life in the lower 48 to move and settle in Alaska, I have come to idolize what Alaska has to offer both to me and to other people. These are just a small part of the reasons for my website and blog. I love the parts of Alaska that I have experienced and have a great desire to help others to develop these same experiences and love for something so beautiful and bounteous and wild.
I should also state, for the record, that I am NOT an activist for any particular cause. Specifically, I am not against drilling for oil in Alaska or elsewhere. I am not against digging out the gold or other minerals that are found in Alaska or anywhere else. I am not against using any of the natural resources that our planet has. Etc., etc., etc. I believe that they were given to us to be used by us for our advantage and to provide the things that we need to survive and even to thrive during our time here on this Earth.
With that all said, I DO believe that we have a responsibility to do ALL that we can to protect and preserve these resources so that we don’t extinguish them and their ability to perpetuate themselves. We DO have the responsibility to pass these things on to our kids in as good or a better state than we received them. When we do things that could have a permanent undesirable effect on our environment, we have the responsibility to put safeguards and protections in place that will ensure the survivability and sustainability of our resources for the future.
I have been watching in the news lately as reports have started to come in about the arrival of debris from the Earthquake and tsunami that happened in Japan in March of 2011. All of this “stuff” that was washed away during that terrible natural disaster has been adrift in the ocean for many months. Now, the ocean currents have carried it North and East to the Alaskan coastline, where it is starting to wash up on the beaches of this pristine wilderness. According to a recent article in The Bristol Bay Times (www.thebristolbaytimes.com/article/1220arriving_on_the_tide_tsunami_debris_sightings), this debris includes everything from soccer balls and plastic water bottles, to glass ball decorations and even a 125 foot long derelict fishing boat.
The Alaskan coastline and the Inside Passage of Alaska contain thousands of miles of beaches and coastline, some of which never sees a human being for years at a time, if ever. The very thing that makes Alaska beautiful is now an obstacle in managing this disaster.
I well remember the cleanness and beauty of the oceans and rivers of Alaska. One could stand there and well believe that mankind had never set foot in that place. One could catch a fish and well believe that this particular fish had never been targeted by human hands before.
I can’t help wonder how this debris will affect the fish, wildlife, birds, and plants that call Alaska home. How long will it take for all of this plastic and man-made material to break down to its elemental beginnings? What will happen when the birds and fish and animals eat this stuff? Will it cause them harm? What about the possible effects of radioactivity on and among some of this floating garbage? What other poisonous compounds are in the bottles, cans, and barrels bobbing their way towards Alaska? The Huffington Post (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/23/japan-tsunami-debris_n_1540581.html) quotes experts who speak of mass casualties already among the shorebirds who eat the washed up garbage.
What about the people who live there? How will their lives and livelihoods be affected by all of this. Most of them depend on the environment for life, whether it be for food, shelter, and sustenance, as in the case of the many native Alaskans who still live primitively, or whether it be the newcomers who work as fishermen, miners, or who make a living showing this wonderful place to the rest of us when we come visiting? How will these people cope with an estimated 1.6 million tons of garbage still believed to be heading their way?
I understand that this problem comes from an unforeseen natural event. I understand and sympathize with those who suffered and died in this catastrophic earthquake and tsunami. I just can’t help but wonder what we, as a human race, can do to ensure that beauty remains on the Earth for our grand-kids to see and experience. What can each of us do in our little sphere to do our part in saving this heritage for the future generations?