Category Archives: Wildlife

A Gift of Whales

Genesis 1:21 (NIV)
So God created the great creatures of the sea . . . And God saw that it was good.

I see whales as gifts from their Creator from a couple different perspectives. First is the fact that they exist — they are alive on earth. Similar, but on a deeper level, is the capacity of some people to appreciate them for the magnificent creatures that they are. Just seeing whales in the wild can inspire peoples’ feelings of happiness, excitement, thankfulness, and even awe. An up-close encounter with a creature half again as long as the 30-foot boat one is watching from is an unforgettable experience, likely to turn many people into instant whale fans and conservationists. Continue reading

Amazing Whale Encounter

In my 24 years running a water taxi and nature tour boat in Prince William Sound, my favorite wildlife experiences were, without a doubt, with whales — especially humpbacks. We often saw orcas too, occasionally minkes, and rarely, grays and fin whales.  But humpbacks were the stars because they were the most dependable. Continue reading

Can PWS Be Loved To Death?

First published 2013 as a “Stakeholder Essay,” pp. 269-273, In: Integrating Science and Community Perspectives in Prince William Sound: a Case Study on Managing for Sustainable Use of Wildlands, Aaron Poe and Randy Gimblett, Eds., USDA, Forest Service, Chugach National Forest, Anchorage, AK

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Is it possible to love a place so much that what you do there imperils the very values that brought you there in the first place? What if there are so many like-minded people using the same place, that together you do just that, even if unawares?  These are questions I pondered for many years, as a working biologist, as a parent exploring the Sound by inflatable in the 1980s with my three young sons, and most recently, as a nature tour guide in Prince William Sound.

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Rough-Lovin’ Sea Otters

First published in the online version of Alaska Magazine in 2013 at: http://www.alaskamagazine.com/10-articles/221-rough-lovin-sea-otters 

Upon watching sea otters for any length of time, one easily gets the impression that they are the epitome of sociability. They float on their backs in amicable groups, often close to each other. Mother otters carry their babies, and even older young ones on their bellies. This is the scene encountered again and again by folks who spend much time on the water in Prince William Sound.

A few years ago, however, while aboard my boat in the southwestern Sound, two companions and I witnessed a far different side of sea otters.   Continue reading