My job allows me to visit a lot of Alaska on a yearly basis. I wanted to capture the trips in one location!

Brown bears, fishing, birding, OHMI! King Salmon and Bristol Bay, Alaska

Aug. 12-14, 2015

After invited to work with the Lake and Peninsula Borough School District I was thrilled to visit King Salmon, which is located in the infamous Bristol Bay, a quick 1 hour flight south from Anchorage. There is a little bit of everything “Alaska” in this region, though it is best known for 1, fishing and 2, brown bears though there are a lot of caribou, moose, wolves and little critters like fox, beaver and of course porcupine!  Tourists also come to the area for bird watching with over 150 different species that pass through this area.

Lake and Pen School District is about the size of West Virginia. The district represents the following communities, the population as of last census is listed after the site.

  1. Port Alsworth ( Tatalian school) 113
  2. Nondalton 205
  3. Newhalen 183
  4. Kokhanok 166
  5. Igiugig 56
  6. Levelock 57
  7. Egegik 76
  8. Pilot Point 76
  9. Port Heiden (Meshik School) 90
  10. Chignik Lagoon 103
  11. Chignik Lake 113
  12. Chignik Bay 92
  13. Perryville 110


Only 2 of these communities, Newhalen and Iliamna are connected by road, everyone else must fly or boat to other communities. Almost 80% of the population of this area are Alaska Native and the district office is in King Salmon.

Fishing: There are 3 main rivers, the Naknek, the Kvichak and the Alagnak which are all a fisherpersons dream. As the name of the area may give away, salmon is abundant in the region as are rainbow, dolly varden, and grayling. As I left the airport on Friday a.m.

I was one of the only NON fisherperson on the plane. Each of them was checking 100-200#’s of fish, and because of this, there was too much luggage for the plane. In the end the airline had to leave over 2000#’s of luggage in King Salmon that would be delivered at a later time.   Mine arrived home on Saturday!


seafood is a huge industry in the area


all these boats are on land currently, UNTIL the next big fishing season!


across the bay another fish plant

Bears: Katmi National Park and Preserve is home to Brooks River/Brooks Camp a famous brown bear viewing location. This area is home to over 2000 bears and in the summer many of them can be seen catching and eating fish during the summer! The other famous bear viewing area in the region is McNeil River. 90 miles from King Salmon it too offers visitors an opportunity to see brown bears in their natural habitat. IMG_5035


Bristol Bay behind me!

Though I did not get to fish on this trip, I did have a bear experience. As I was leading the workshop, a gun shot was heard, and quickly the superintendent defused any concern by stating “oh the bear must be around the building and we are just shooooing it away”! Only in Alaska!IMG_5036

Leave a comment »

Mendenhall Glacier Bear Activity

June 1, 2014

This was sent in an email to my by Laurie Craig the Lead Naturalist at the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center.  She wrote that “A few of us observed a fascinating bear family interaction. No camera was handy so I recreated the event in a different manner. Enjoy!”  I asked and she gave permission to share these.  cartoon 1 cub climbs tree 2014 june 1 cartoon 2 bears dangle 1june2014 cartoon 3 bear chew branch 1june2014 cartoon 4 munch 1june2014 cub tree2 cub tree

Then, I found some photo’s taken by Janice Gorle that go along with the adorable story.  Thanks Laurie and Janice.


Leave a comment »

Juneau’s road side bears; Mom and 3 cubs

bears playing

3 cubs playing on a log. (Photo by Janet Lopez)

janet year one bears

Mama watching her 3 babies in the spring of 2013. (Photo by Janet Lopez)

Last May (2013) we had a treat almost daily this black bear and her cubs would be eating dandelions on the by-pass near our house.  Several time I’d see them OR at least knew they were there because cars were parked all along the road trying to get photos. NONE of these pics are mine, but I will get credit to my sweet friends who took them. I am usually on my motorcycle this time of year and I am NOT stopping to grab the camera.


This May (2014) I was thrilled to see them early in May and almost every day since. Sometimes they are just playing around and others simply eating. It means that the babies made it through winter and are now one year old! Very fun.

katy bears

May 2014 Mom and 1 year olds return. (Photo by Katy Giorgio)

bears cx

This is a Juneau traffic jam… I drive this road daily and see them all the time. (May 2014 photo by Jennifer Hardy Brown)


So, for the educational part of this blog…. Some maybe wondering, ‘how come 2 cubs are brown and mom and other cub are black?’ Well the answer is actually quite simple. Black Bears, are all one species, but can be black, brown, cinnamon, blonde and yes, even white, which in Alaska and the Pacific NW are called “Spirit Bears” . Scientist speculate that there are many different colors to their coats: 1. to help camouflage them or 2. Because of climate and what they eat.


These brown cubs could lose the brown color and turn to black over time. It usually doesn’t happen until they are a bit older.


One other thing to note is the ‘chest blaze’ that is clearly viewed on the mom and the cubs. It is basically a “V” like marking, and her cubs are more likely to keep theirs throughout their life because she still has hers. It is not uncommon for a cub to lose theirs as they mature.


****These brown coated ‘black’ bears should NOT be confused with the Brown or Grizzly bears that I wrote about in my blog last summer.https://timistravels.wordpress.com/2013/07/ They can inhabit the same areas, but the Brown/Grizzly bears are much larger and have distinct characteristics that label them as such.

see the V marking on chest?  photo by Sue Reishus

Take note of the V marking on chest? photo by Sue Reishus

watched this guy stand up and walk over to car; it is worrysome how comfortable they are around humans. Photo by Sue Reishus

mom crossed the road leaving the cubs on one side. There was an attempt to stop traffic and allow cubs to join mom, here they are reunited again. Photo by Sue Reishus

UPDATE: Last night on ride home stopped and watched them play, my friend Sue Reishus captured these shots.

1 Comment »