Tuesday, February 7, 2012


Hi Sea Fans!

I'm back in the US and have lots to tell you.  Ever heard of Cordova?  Well, I hadn't until Kara Johnson, from the Prince William Sound Science Centre, got a hold of me and invited me to come and stay with her for a few days.  Boy am I glad I said yes!!  I learnt so much in such a short time.

The first thing that Kara taught me about was the Copper River Watershed.  This is an important waterway that supports the world-famous Copper River red salmon runs.
The Copper River Watershed on the map.
Each year 2–3 million Sockeye, Chinook, and Coho salmon return to the system, with over half being harvested by the commercial gillnet fishery at the mouth of the river. The fishery averages $40 million/year!!!!  Subsistence (fish taken for survival) and sport fishermen (those who fish for fun) on the upper river harvest over 200,000 salmon each year, with values estimated at between $3 and $5 million, a critical contribution (input) to the upriver economy (the financial system of the area...money money money!) and culture (way of life). 

Some other interesting facts about the watershed:

  • 23 communities live long the watershed
  • The watershed is 26 500 miles long (42 648 km - 426 rugby fields!)
  • The headwaters drain from Copper Glacier in the Wrangell Mountains
  • Encompasses (includes) the largest National Park and Preserve in the US (Wrangell-St. Elias National Park)
  • Includes the Copper, Gulkana, Klutina, Chitina, Tazlina, Gakona and Tonsina Rivers along with hundreds of tributaries, lakes and smaller rivers
  • It provides habitat (a home) for bears, caribou, moose, mountain goats, sheep, wolves, waterfowl and many other species
  • It's one of the last intact (undamaged/unbroken) watersheds in North America
While I was in Alaska, I got to experience Snowpocalypse 2012!  Never heard of it?  Well, neither had I until Kara told me to look outside:
And this was only the beginning of the snow!
Snowpocalypse means - A weather condition in which the amount of fallen snow, while not really such a big deal, wreaks havoc on a city, effectively shutting it down and leaving its citizens stunned and unable to see any sign of hope or a return to normalcy. (Urban Dictionary)
The view from the Prince William Sound Science Centre window.
The 4th graders I got to meet in the Discovery Room at the Science Centre.
While I was at the Science Centre, I got to learn about glaciers: how they form, how they melt and how they produce silt (muddy deposit).  
Learning about glaciers.
 I also got to sit in on a practice session with the guys and girls entering the National Ocean Sciences Bowl.
The guys and girls entering the Sciences Bowl -
Lindsey Hammer, Gabrielle Brown, Ben Americus, James Allen, Robin Pegau, Sarah Hoepfner, and Adam Zamudio
The National Ocean Sciences Bowl (http://www.nosb.org/) is a nationally recognized high school academic competition where talented students can test their knowledge of the marine sciences. This competition was created in 1998 in honor of the International Year of the Ocean and since then, the competition has grown to include  300 schools with over 2,000 students taking part each year. The Alaska regional competition is called the Tsunami Bowl and Cordova (where the Science Centre is) has been participating since 2002 with Prince William Sound Science Centre educators (teachers) working as the coaches. This year they have two teams, a junior team called the Urchin Queens and a senior team called the Nefarious Dawgsharks. The Tsunami Bowl will be held at the beginning of March and the winners go to the national competition to be held in Baltimore, MD later in the spring. 

To Be Continued...
Have a great week Sea Fans!
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