Friday, June 27, 2008

Wrap up

We'll pop back here from time to time to update you with some post trip news...

Check out this extensive article on Beach Debris for more insight into the story behind our beach clean up.

Also, listen to an MP3 of our interview on Kodiak Public Radio!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Regarding the Pig

The blog is such and easy way to send messages down to Moser Bay! PAUL! If you can tell Matt the pig is registered under Carrie Nahabedian, in case there is any confusion! For those of you wondering about the pig - it served us well. It was once filled with Liquid Sunshine from The Kodiak Island Brewing Company - our beer of choice on the island. Three years ago, our friend Josh send up an urgent request over the radio - "bring beer" and now the ceremonial tapping of the pig has become a tradition for our summertime visits - long may they live!

We hate to leave the island! We are off to our farewell lunch at Henry's where we think Rohit can stomach one more meal of fried to Anchorage tonight and then - well, we won't talk about it quite yet.

Listen Live!

We are heading over to KMXT to be interviewed on Public Radio - you can listen live at if you want to hear about our adventures so far...

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Super Thursday!

We just got back from Olga/Moser Bay after an absolutely fantastic day! Carrie is going to tell you all about it, but first - if you are reading this in Kodiak we are going to be on the radio tomorrow so call in sick to work so you can tune into KMXT all day and listen for us!

Second, many people do not know this, but Moser Bay is as beautiful and precious as Olga Bay, and the fishermen and their families that live there are some of the best people on the planet, and their fish are fantastic. We don't mean to give them the short end of the stick...

Here's Carrie to tell you all about our day out on the south end of the island:

Today was the day I have been waiting for since the first time I ever saw a Wild Alaskan Sockeye Salmon. We left Kodiak Island this sunny morning bound for Olga Bay in a Beaver Float plane. What a day it was…truly a once in a lifetime experience! Yes we saw Kodiak Brown “Grizzly” Bears, Seals, Otters and an inquisitive Silver Fox, but by far the star attraction was the pristine waters of Olga Bay and the silvery ‘red” Salmon known as “Sockeye.” Our hosts for the day were Bill and Ann Barker, their daughter Heather and their lovely family. We were in awe of the natural beauty of Alaska which stretched out in front of us for miles. It is really “the last frontier”…..

We landed smoothly on the Bay, the crystal clear water like glass glistening in the early morning sun. We could see Sea Urchins, Starfish, Sea Anemones, edible Kelp and the occasional flash of silver salmon darting through the water. After a hearty breakfast of Ann’s delicious baked sweets, we all bundled up for our FIRST adventure….checking the gill net lines for Sockeye and “pulling” up the pot for FRESH Alaskan King Crab!

A very happy Seal was enjoying breakfast on a Sockeye, so we went and checked the Crab Pot. This was far from “Deadliest Catch”, but an adventure that all of us “city dwellers” had never even knew existed! Local families can catch six King Crab per season for food, so we were honored that the Barker’s had generously shared their Crab with us. Two boats pulled up the line holding the pot from the extreme and chilly depths which was baited with fish carcasses. When the pot surfaced, there was a very large King Crab, a few Spanner Crabs and a big Cod. We put the Spanner Crabs back and let go of the Cod while the Crab was pulled free of the pot. Unfortunately, the rise from the Bay floor was too much for the Cod to handle and after numerous attempts by Heather to see him swim freely away, he was brought on the boat and added to the dinner menu….

The Crab was huge with mildly snapping claws and we happily posed for pictures!

King Crabs from the Bering Sea are processed on board the big crab boats, so it is extremely rare to see a live one unless you are on a crab boat.

The gill nets were full of Salmon, so Mary, Heather and Bill carefully removed them from the net, broke the gill to bleed them and then immetydiately put them in a “slurry” of crushed ice and sea water . Each fish was handled with such detail and respect.

Brandon readied the Crabs and cooked them in a big pot in the shed using the water from the Bay. We had a massive feast of fresh King Crab for lunch….the taste was incredible, so clean and simple, pure heaven…all they needed was melted butter which Ann had in heated pots for us to enjoy!

Putting on our gear once again ( life jackets, rubber boots, coats, slickers and waders), we left the warm home of the Barkers and headed out on the bay and surrounding inlets to see the “weir”. The weir is where it all happens, there can be no fishing unless the men that man the weir say so. The weir is a row of tripod shaped fences that cross the Dog Salmon Creek. The weir has metal gated that are pulled open so the salmon can swim upstream and spawn. The setting is idyllic and the closest thing to purity, this was the way it must have been when the explorers first came to Alaska. The water of the creek is fast moving and clear. The banks of the creek have high grasses and moss, it is a prairie setting with Magpie nests in the trees and big American Bald Eagles fling by. There are two weirs, east and west. Brandon was here on the east weir checking on the health and sustainability of the salmon stocks. It has been a rough start of the year, Spring came late to Alaska (and the rest of America) and there is still snow on the mountains and a crispness in the air.

The men sit on the weir and open the gates and count the salmon that pass through by hand. In the age of automation, the fish are still counted by hand…this is what SUSATAINABLE SEAFOOD means. This is “Ground Zero” for Salmon.

If there is not enough escapement, there is no fishing. All the families who fish this region honor and respect the system since it insures future generations that there will be fish. Brandon lives in a small house on the property and has names for all the Bears that stop by for a ‘free meal” on the weir. We didn’t see them, but you could feel their presence out in the open marshes. We walked the marsh and saw many edible native Alaskan flowers and berries including the highly prized Nagoonberry plant.

As we headed back to the Barker’s, we saw a mother “Sow” Grizzly Bear and her two cubs walking the shallow lagoon waters looking for a nice fatty salmon to eat…It was our first bear sighting and everyone was in awe of the size and majesty of this beautiful animal. The bears ran into the forest once they heard the Bald Eagles feasting on the hunt that the bear had obviously stored in the woods. We came back exhilarated and ready for our salmon feast! But first…a trip to Seal rock. Sarah is going to tell you all about that adventure since I stayed behind to taste wine and make the cod. Ann had the Socekye clearly in hand, it was coated in a brown sugar marinade and the natural fire was being prepared…

Just then, Bill saw the family of Bears back on the flats and he pulled out the scope for all of us to see them up close and personal. It was like a postcard…..the big brown bear “mama” with her massive girth lumbering through the shallows with her two babies in tow. One of the cubs was larger than the other and they all walked in a row. Hard to believe these sweet faced soft looking beauties are the most feared animal in America. They look so vulnerable walking around, but they are safe in the sanctuary of Kodiak Island Refuge! We watched them until they once again headed for the woods and we headed to the huge dining room table and Sockeye Salmon! We were joined by the other families and fisherman/fisherwomen who live on the bay for this feast. It was a wonderful gathering of friends, some of the hardest working people you would ever meet.

They live in natural splendor and they bring to our table the most beautiful fish. I left Olga Bay with a renewed sense of what life is all about. CN

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Wednesday night fun

What could be more fun than a lecture! We headed over to Kodiak's new visitors center for a reception and presentation from Andy on beach debris and current and future projects. We enjoyed some great food from Chef Joel, who owns Mill Bay Coffee & Pastry and was recently named "Ambassador of Sustainable Seafood" at the 2008 Cooking for Solutions series held at the Monterey Bay Aquarium in May. Then a short presentation from Andy about the problems associated with marine debris (especially plastics and ghost nets).

The Marine Conservation Alliance Foundation has a lot of good information if you are looking to learn more about this issue.

Early to bed tonight, we're heading to Olga Bay in the morning!

Wednesday, still sunny

First order of business, thanks to everyone for reading and keeping up with our adventure...and then a quick message to Paul Finzer - we'll be there around 9:00 AM, we are flying with Andrews Air.

A little quieter of a day around here today, we slept in (much appreciated), breakfasted at the Mill Bay Coffee Company, then headed for Fort Abercrombie for a nice little hike. We took care of a few errands, lunched at Henry's then went in search of scenic views.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Sunny Tuesday!

We had an absolutely amazing day out on the Island C! We headed out around 9:00 with our guides Andy, Trevor and Harry into a slowly warming morning, a reluctant sun buring the low lying clouds and fog away. As we headed out of the harbor, everyone was excited and hopeful that we will see whales...and we did! We were out about an hour when the excited cry came - WHALE!! We see a cloud of mist from a blow hole, Trevor cuts the engine and there is a lone humpback feedling right in front of us! He (or she) would come up for air every 30 seconds or so, then take a big breath, flip his tail and submerge for 2 minutes or so. We floated and watched for about an hour, then decided to head towards Icon Bay...Here's Sarah;

Rohit took some amazing pictures to kind of give you a feeling of what it was like to be on the Island C. Kodiak Island is so beautiful. We went out to smaller islands surrounding it and got off the boat into a skiff then to the shore. A great big eagle swooped down and welcomed us or maybe she was saying stay away. Either way it was a really big bird and I think the first time I have seen an eagle that close. We went "beachcombing" and under Mary rules that meant we were all given big bags to clean up the debris that the ocean washed ashore. Actually Andy started a foundation that I'm going to let Mary tell you about to clean up the Alaskan shore line. Within a few minutes we had bags of garbage. Rohit really pitched in too and enjoyed his time "beachcombing." Only wish I had pictures of that too!

The boat was pristine and the guys that hosted us were so gracious. They had arranged for lunch from a local caterer that was perfect for taking a day trip. The company is called Gwyn's cookery & more. The lunch was great sandwiches presented so nicely and the best broccoli slaw ever!

Thanks Sarah! Andy taught us a little bit about the phenomenon of beach debris using a little plastic frog to illustrate the persistance of plastic in the ocean. I have to say it was almost unbelieveable that when we left the boat to go on shore at Icon Bay, saw the bald eagle, and stepped on to a deserted, completely wild beach in the middle of nowhere - and all of a sudden began to focus our eye on...GARBAGE! We filled bags with garbage - plastic water bottles, discarded buoys, fotsam, jetsam, everywhere - the beach was covered. We worked hard and in about 30 minutes had FILLED about 12 bags with garbage. It was hard work, but important to really get a feel for the issue.

We took a spin around the bay in the little skiff before heading back to the Island C,and ultimately for home. Enjoyed sushi at the Powerhouse (will talk about the bidet later - hidden treasure of Kodiak) and then after a re-cap session at the Chart Room and a few games of memory, we headed for the racks.