Category Archives: Alaska

Brown Bear viewing at Cape Douglas (Alaska)

Quick video compilation of some bear viewing scenes. This is at Cape Douglas in Katmai National Park (Alaska). My time is taken up with guiding and other responsibilities, so the edited version will have to wait until I return to NC, but I wanted to share at least this for now! Don’t forget to keep checking the Stay Curious Facebook page for photos and quick updates (you don’t have to join Facebook to view the public page).

Hooded Nudibranch Dance

This quick clip is from 2014, but I wanted to post it here so that folks can find it easily! It was super fun to find this Hooded Nudibranch (Melibe leonina) in the eel grass around MacDonald Spit in Kasitsna Bay, Alaska.

Quick Glimpses

Just a reminder to be checking the Stay Curious Facebook page. I have limited time to post to the blog during the summer months while guiding and working at Tutka Bay Lodge, but I’m working hard to post photos and quick notes on the Facebook page. You don’t need to have a personal Facebook account in order to view the public Stay Curious page. Here’s a glimpse of some of the things I’ve been posting about.



Low tide treasures

Today we had a nice low tide and went out to a different area of our coast to explore the intertidal zone. Look what we found!

This is a hairy triton (Fusitriton oregonensis). We saw a few today, but THIS one is brooding its eggs! So cool.


Then we found a frilled dogwinkle (Nucella lamellosa), which we had never seen before!


We also found this little six-armed sea star clutching a piece of mussel shell with a bunch of small eggs on it.

Stay Curious on Facebook

I’ve been busy working at Tutka Bay Lodge (and loving every moment and every task). This week we had the King of Norway visit, spent time kayaking, watched the forest unfold into spring as we hiked, created and led a junior naturalist treasure hunt, and much more. The best place to see photos, get quick updates, and follow my adventure is on my Facebook Stay Curious page. I’m taking lots of photos and copious notes in my field journal, so hopefully later I will be able to write more detailed blog posts.TBL_May_2015_26

Trailside views

At Tutka Bay Lodge we have several trail loops that are adjacent to the property. We hike these loops daily (sometimes more than once in a day). I love seeing the difference a day can make. Or a rainfall.

We have a temperate rain forest here on the coast. Yes, you heard that right–rain forest and Alaska. The key being a “temperate” rain forest (receiving between 60 and 200 inches of rain a year from the Pacific ocean). This is the most northern extent of this type of forest. Further to our north is the boreal forest.

We’re still seeing Spring unfurl. I can’t wait to start seeing the wildflowers burst open! Here’s a few glimpses of what I saw today. Be sure to check out (and “like”) my Stay Curious Facebook page, where I post some quick pics whenever I can!






Juvenile Octopus

Look what we found at Within the Wilderness Adventures‘ Tutka Bay Lodge during super low tide (-4.7) today! A tiny octopus. We had a great time watching it swim, change color and respond to our observations! It was about 8 cm from tip to tip of tentacle when it was fully extended. We carefully released it back into the ocean after we were able to get a closer look at it! So special.


This photo shows a little of the scale of the octopus.


Exploring Homer, Alaska

I arrived on the Alaska Marine Highway System ferry (the Kennicott) late on Friday night. I am staying with the Carroll family (Colleen is a friend of one of my NC friends, Lori). They have been amazing hosts. I’ll be here for a few more days until I take the water taxi over to Tutka Bay Lodge and begin working!

This is their home, about 9 miles west of downtown Homer. Colleen runs the Homer Theatre (more about that later) and her husband, AlRay, fishes and is also an engineer on a vessel that takes supplies (like lumber, machinery, etc) out to the remote villages in the Northwest. He was home for one day while I was here, then he left for about 8 weeks on one of their delivery trips.


I’m staying in a little RV on their property while I’m here!

The views from their porch never get old.

We have had moose in the yard several times. Woodpeckers, grosbeaks, swallows, and more keep us entertained. Outside my window I can watch some clever long-tailed voles run around in some of AlRay’s fishing nets and old lines that are in the yard.

Saturday we celebrated Cassidy’s birthday (she’s Colleen and AlRay’s 8-year-old). We went down to the Homer Spit and did some tidepooling with some of her friends. We had a great time. Then it was off to Starvin’ Marvin for some pizza.

Sunday morning I went to an Edible Plants of Kachemak Bay walk. It was part of the Kachemak Bay Shorebird festival that has been going on for the last several days. An astonishing amount of migratory birds come through Homer. homer_08_edibles_sign





Although the person leading the walk has been foraging and learning about edible plants for almost 20 years, she was not a botanist, so most of the information was very general and the best advice we learned was the mnemonic for telling the difference between an edible plant, Angelica, and a poisonous plant, Water Hemlock. First, you observe where the veins of the leaf end… at the tip of the leaf or in between lobes (the “cut”). Then remember this:

Veins to the cut, pain in the gut; veins to the tip, everything’s hip

Colleen’s parents are visiting from Florida. They will be moving here later this year (and living in a cabin right next door). Since it was Mother’s Day, we went in search of a place for brunch. A few of our first choices were full (uh oh, we were supposed to make reservations?), but we found a nice place and I enjoyed a salmon sandwich. Later in the afternoon, Colleen, Cassidy, and I went for a short hike on the Calvin & Coyle trail. We had a lovely time and saw a moose, a very vocal squirrel, and lots of interesting plants. The trail weaves through a forest, a meadow, and a bog (via strategically placed boards).



Monday we went into town and stopped at the Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies. Such a great place. I hope to get out to their field station on the other side of Kachemak Bay sometime soon.

They have 3 ROVs that they made from NOAA “Bot in a Bucket” plans. I didn’t have the openROV with me, but we shared about equipment, ideas, and experiences with the underwater explorers! I’ll bring the openROV down to show them at some point.
Next stop was the Alaska Islands and Ocean Visitor Center.
I explored the exhibits a bit and then spent some time walking around outdoors on their trails. One trail leads down to Bishop’s Beach (where the Edible Plants walk was). The best part of Bishop’s Beach is that there is a fantastic bakery right on the edge of the road, Two Sisters Bakery. They have the most amazing oven, incredible breads, delicious coffee, and a fantastic view.

The day ended with a hike along the Homer Spit (poor Colleen got a blister on the ball of her foot, ouch!). Cassidy joined us, but she rode her bicycle while we walked. At night, we finished reading the second book of the Harry Potter series, and then watched the movie together. I had forgotten how long that movie is.

There really isn’t a bad view in Homer. No matter where you look you see mountains, glaciers, the Bay, wildlife, or a coffee shop.

As I mentioned, Colleen is the manager for the Homer Theatre. Right now they are showing the Avengers and I plan to go watch that tonight. What is the best thing about the small theatre? They serve popcorn with real butter and they have nutritional yeast to sprinkle on it!

It is nice to have a few days to do laundry, pick up miscellaneous supplies, and explore Homer before heading out to the lodge. But I’m really looking forward to getting started… especially since we have a super low tide coming up early next week!!!

Stay tuned, and Stay Curious!