Search This Blog

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Life Cycle

Outlet to Karluk Lake

Some days I really love my job.  Today I got to re visit an area I know well to check on archaeological site conditions and help the landowner plan future activities in the area.  Basically I was showing everybody where the archaeological sites are located so that they could be protected.

While I know the area well, I had never been there in fall.  All my visits have been in the spring when the vegetation is low and it is easier to investigate and map archaeological sites.  I've never been there when the river was choked with salmon and bears lined the bank to feed on them.  This is when prehistoric Alutiiq people probably visited the area and you can still see the stone weirs they built to catch fish. Seeing all the salmon and bears totally changed my perception of the place.

It also was a strong reminder of the cycle of life.  Sort of like the medieval painting where the guy is gazing upon a skull - memento mori. All these salmon have come up the river to die, the bears are eating them, and their rotting bodies are providing nutrients to the ecosystem.  Whoa!  That's as basic as it gets.

And it makes you wonder exactly what those salmon are thinking.  Do they know they are going to die? And do they care?


Red salmon getting ready to spawn

Underwater picture of the rocks that make up a prehistoric fishing weir - note shy salmon in background

Spawned out reds partially eaten by bears

Underwater photo of rotting fish parts - a major source of nutrients for the ecosystem

My traveling companions Matt and Nate (our pilot Keller not pictured)

No comments: