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Harriman Expedition Retraced

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Expedition Log: July 27, 2001

Jonas Parker, Young Explorers Team
Elizabeth Litwin, Young Explorers Team

Sitka

Jonas Parker, Young Explorers Team e

Beginning at 4:30 a.m. the Clipper Odyssey entered Peril Straits under a low overcast sky with heavy mist, having traveled south from Skagway, Alaska. Peril Straits is a narrow body of water that separates Chichigof and Baranof Islands. During tide changes, water flows at a tremendous rate through Sergius Narrows, creating heavy currents. The Narrows has a reputation for bountiful wildlife sightings, so expedition members gathered on deck for the journey through Peril Straits. The Clipper Odyssey then journeyed through Salisbury Sound, and then south through Neva and Olga Straits.

Breakfast was served at 6:00 a.m. in Whitestone Narrows. Several minutes later a grizzly sow with a cub was spotted on Halleck Island.

Clipper Odyssey docked in Sitka at 9:00 a.m. Expedition members traveled by bus to the site of the former Alaska Pulp Company's pulp mill. This mill was once the main employer of Sitka and operated for approximately 30 years before being shut down in the early 1990's due to a deflated timber market.

Following the tour of the pulp mill, expedition members proceeded by bus to Allen Marine. This is a local boat building and tour operating company. This tour demonstrated to expedition members how the economy of Sitka has changed from being resource dependent to a tourist based economy. Allen Marine builds boats for customers as far away as New York.


St. Michaels

St. Michaels Russian Orthodox Church has been a spiritual cornerstone in Sitka since its founding. (Photo by National Ocean Service, NOAA).
Click image for a larger view.

After lunch aboard the Clipper Odyssey, the expedition participated in a community forum held at the Sheetkla Kwan Nakahidi Community House. Panel members included Michele Blackwell, director of the Sitka Convention and Visitors Bureau and Mollie Kabler, a Sitka School Board member. Issues discussed were tourism, resource management, cultural issues, education and health issues.

After the forum, members had the option to attend a guided walking tour of the Sitka National Historical Park and Raptor Rehabilitation Center, or visit the Isabella Miller and Sheldon Jackson Museums. Some expedition members opted to take nature walks on local trails. Expedition members reboarded the Clipper Odyssey at 5:30 p.m. and set sail north bound for Glacier Bay.

While under sail, Bob Peck gave a presentation entitled "A Celebration Of Birds: The Life and Art of L.A. Fuertes." Immediately following the presentation the Clipper Odyssey passed by St. Lazaria Island just off Kruzof Island. St. Lazaria is a designated wildlife refuge, and is home to thousands of nesting seabirds. While on deck, expedition members saw tufted puffins, thick-billed murres, common murres, pelagic cormorants, black-legged kittiwakes and rhinoceros auklets.

Clipper Odyssey continued on for Point Adolphus and Glacier Bay.

 


Elizabeth Litwin, Young Explorers Team

Hi. My name is Elizabeth Litwin, I am 13, and one of the students on the Harriman Alaska Expedition Retraced. Today we did a lot of exciting things, but one thing sticks out in my mind as my favorite.

We went to Alaska Raptor Center in Sitka. The Raptor Center is a hospital for injured and hurt raptors. A raptor is a bird of prey. Three things that make a raptor different then other birds are its sharp, curved beak, powerful talons and amazing eyesight. I learned that if you are standing on one side of a football field reading a newspaper, and a raptor is on the other side, it can read the one inch print (if it could read!).

On the way to the Raptor Center, I was worried they wouldn't have any birds at this time. Boy was I wrong. My guess is there were close to twenty birds, and many different species. I was surprised to see that they had crows and ravens because they are not raptors.

On the way into the Center we looked at the owls, they were really cute. Then, we went inside to learn about raptors. The staff brought in one golden eagle named Duke. I thought that he was kind of scary looking because he was so big, but he weighed only 7.5 lbs. Duke was there because he only had one eye, so he could never be released back into the wild. In the raptor clinic they were cleaning a bald eagles' talons. The staff put a mask over the eagle's eyes and held it very tightly. I think they did this so that it stayed calm. I think that it would be fun to work at the Raptor Center except for having to clean their cages.

(View the day's photos)

(Community Profile: Sitka)


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For information on the Harriman Retraced Expedition e-mail: harriman2001@science.smith.edu

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