AK – Ketchikan and the Alaska Rainforest Sanctuary

Leave a comment

July 24, 2016 by Dr. G

I recently took an amazing trip to southeast Alaska and explored sites in the region known as the “inner passage.” Here, I’ll share some of the sites I saw that are not only fun and fascinating, but there is a science and societal (cultural) relevance that make these appropriate subjects to bring to my students in my courses. While on this journey, I was also a Guestgrammer on the American Geophysical Union’s Instagram account (@americangeophysicalunion), so I’ll include some of those posts here as well.

DSCN7066I had never heard of Ketchikan, Alaska, before arriving there – and you can only arrive on this island by boat or by plane. (In fact, one of the Ketchikan residents was joking with us that there are no car thefts on the island – there is no place to take a car once it is stolen!) Ketchikan is known for the largest collection of totem poles in the world and as the rainfall capital of the United States (in fact, of all of North America), receiving on average 160+ inches of rainfall per year. This constant source of rainfall allows Ketchikan to also have a piece of the largest old growth temperate rainforest.

View this post on Instagram

AGU Penguin here, coming to you from Ketchikan, located on Revillagigedo Island, Alaska. This location can only be reached by boat or plane (or by swimming!). Ketchikan is the rainiest city in North America, receiving ~13 feet of rainwater per year. In addition, Ketchikan is home to part of the largest temperate rainforest in the world. There is an abundance of Sitka spruce (the Alaska state tree), Western hemlocks, Western red cedar, as well as bald eagles, black bears, and banana slugs! This rainforest is part of the Tongass National Forest, the largest national forest in the United States at 17 million acres in size, designated by Teddy Roosevelt in 1907. #guestgrammer #AGUpenguin #alaska #ketchikan #revillagigedoisland

A post shared by American Geophysical Union (@americangeophysicalunion) on

The Alaska Rainforest Sanctuary (http://www.alaskarainforest.com/) was a wonderful place to explore not only this amazing landscape, but it was also a place where we saw bald eagles, black bears, and banana slugs! In fact, this is the location of the second largest rainforest in the world, and Alaska is home to 50% of the world’s population of bald eagles. Here are a few snapshots of the amazing scenery.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

This pole is called Raven and the Tide Woman - definitely a different way to explain the tidal changes! The story is at: http://www.alaskarainforest.com/pages/TotemPark9.htm

This pole is called Raven and the Tide Woman – definitely a different way to explain the tidal changes! The story is at: http://www.alaskarainforest.com/pages/TotemPark9.htm

I don't know the story behind this pole - would love to know why the octopus is having its tentacles all severed!

I don’t know the story behind this pole – would love to know why the octopus is having its tentacles all severed!

One additional surprise for me in this location was not as much the presence of all the totem poles, but the amazing symbolism and stories that the totem poles have to tell. At the Alaska Rainforest Sanctuary in particular, there is a Tsimshian from the Native community of Metlakatla that is carving poles with wildlife and legends of the region. I noticed that several of the poles have stories relating to the ocean – I can’t wait to bring these pieces of art and their stories into my oceanography course next time!

I hope to get back to Ketchikan again in the future. It was the 4th of July when we visited, so it was difficult to get around the small town with everyone out for their 4th of July parade. But after exploring the rainforest and catching a lumberjack competition, we were off to our next destination!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.


Follow me on Instagram

Wrapping up my @scienceathon week by wrapping up in my favorite blanket and drinking hot chocolate out of my favorite mug from @earthandstate. It's been a great week of communicating some of who I am, what I do, and the great community I am a part of. I hope I have been able to help others learn more about me - an #actuallivingscientist, a part of #womeninstem, always looking for ways to connect Earth science to the non-science community, whether it be through #sciart or #EarthScienceWeek or documentary screenings on campus like #thehumanelementmovie. ************************************ #dayofscience #weekofscience #earthsciencewomensnetwork #ESWN #octopus #hotchocolate ************************************** If you enjoyed following my week, please consider donating to my crowdrise page for the @scienceathon, where donations benefit the amazing organization ESWN (Earth Science Women's Network). https://www.crowdrise.com/o/en/campaign/science-a-thon-2018/lauraguertin
Yes, the @scienceathon is officially over - but I'm not finished yet! Today is a big day for me, as this is the second year the @psubrandywine Sustainovation Club (@sustainpsubw) students are leading an educational outreach activity at the @tylerarboretum Pumpkin Days Fall Festival. This year, the students decided to focus on teaching kids about conserving energy at home, showcase various renewable energy sources (such as wind power), emphasized the benefits of planting native plants and going outside, then helping kids create their own pinwheels. The last table at our station asked visitors to state how they will go home and make better efforts to conserve energy. This year's Sustainability Research Station was a great combination of education and hands-on fun! I'm so proud of the 19 students that came out today to make a difference in the community. #sustainovation #weare #wearepennstate #nittanylion #mascot #education #outreach #dayofscience #weekofscience #actuallivingscientist #womeninstem
Big event today! We unveiled winners of our 1st-ever @PSUBrandywine #EarthScienceWeek photo contest! See how the #EarthAsInspiration theme was used with @adobe products. Thanks Matt Bodek & @psulibs #VairoLibrary 4organizing w/me! @scienceathon #dayofscience #weekofscience @vairolibrarypsu #photocontest
Piling up the boxes and bins this morning outside of my office this morning for an early pick from the campus maintenance department. I'm so lucky to have such supportive services across the campus that come together as a team for our outreach events. Maintenance will be bring all of this stuff (minus the fire extinguisher!) and some folding tables over to one of our community partners, @tylerarboretum, so we can participate in their Pumpkin Days Fall Festival on Saturday! (and yes, I'm sporting last year's @scienceathon t-shirt!) #dayofscience #weekofscience #actuallivingscientist #womeninstem #logisticslogisticslogistics #whatfacultydo
Lunch at 3PM, because my marathon day of teaching/meetings doesn’t take a break during the @scienceathon! #dayofscience #weekofscience #whitepizza @pennstatebwcampusliving
%d bloggers like this: