Part I: Early Winter on the Ice

The great white bears that walk the land and sea ice of northeastern Alaska and northwestern Canada make up the southern Beaufort Sea subpopulation of polar bears in the circumpolar North. Indigenous peoples have lived here for thousands of years with Nanuuq, the Inupiaq name for the polar bear; traditional knowledge holds great respect for the bear, in part for its clever adaptations to hunting and living on both sea and land and surviving in difficult conditions.

The behavior and biology of the Beaufort Sea bears inspired the following story of a year in the life of a female polar…

Part II: Spring brings new cubs

The great white bears that walk the land and sea ice of northeastern Alaska and northwestern Canada make up the southern Beaufort Sea subpopulation of polar bears in the circumpolar North. Indigenous peoples have lived here for thousands of years with Nanuuq, the Inupiaq name for the polar bear; traditional knowledge holds great respect for the bear, in part for its clever adaptations to hunting and living on both sea and land and surviving in difficult conditions.

The behavior and biology of the Beaufort Sea bears inspired the following story of a year in the life of a female polar…

Part III: Stalking the seals of summer

The great white bears that walk the land and sea ice of northeastern Alaska and northwestern Canada make up the southern Beaufort Sea subpopulation of polar bears in the circumpolar North. Indigenous peoples have lived here for thousands of years with Nanuuq, the Inupiaq name for the polar bear; traditional knowledge holds great respect for the bear, in part for its clever adaptations to hunting and living on both sea and land and surviving in difficult conditions.

The behavior and biology of the Beaufort Sea bears inspired the following story of a year in the life of a female polar…

Part IV: Fall Harvest on the Coast

The great white bears that walk the land and sea ice of northeastern Alaska and northwestern Canada make up the southern Beaufort Sea subpopulation of polar bears in the circumpolar North. Indigenous peoples have lived here for thousands of years with Nanuuq, the Inupiaq name for the polar bear; traditional knowledge holds great respect for the bear, in part for its clever adaptations to hunting and living on both sea and land and surviving in difficult conditions.

The behavior and biology of the Beaufort Sea bears inspired the following story of a year in the life of a female polar…

ALL THE FISH

A conversation with Fish Biologist Randy Brown

Image for post
Image for post
North Slope Dolly Varden in spawning colors. 📷 USFWS

We sat down with Randy Brown (a Fish Biologist in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Fairbank Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office) to talk about North Slope Dolly Varden.

All The Fish

Ice fishing for Alaska’s largest whitefish

Siikauraq Martha Whiting, an Inupiaq fisherwoman born and raised in Kotzebue, Alaska talks with us about about all things Sheefish on episode 6 of Fish of the Week!

Siikauraq ice fishing
Siikauraq ice fishing

All the Fish

Primeval Instruments of the Imagination

The lamprey. Your standard Sea Lamprey and Pacific Lamprey are roughly flute-sized. Arctic Lamprey? Piccolo. But that jawless maw is not a embouchure hole, so you won’t want to put your mouth on it. And those aren’t finger holes, they lead to gills.

close up of an artic lamprey
close up of an artic lamprey
Arctic Lamprey 📷 University of Alaska Fairbanks/Trent Sutton

Agnathans (a superclass of cartilaginous jawless fish including lampreys and hagfish) have been on earth since before the dinosaurs. And they haven’t changed much. Fossil lampreys that are 360+ million years old look like modern species — a true testament to their success throughout the eons.

All The Fish

get the most out of your winter

a mom ice fishing with son in Alaska
a mom ice fishing with son in Alaska
A mom ice fishing with her son on a lake near Anchorage, Alaska. 📷 USFWS/Katrina Liebich

Looking for a way to beat the winter blues and teach a young person important life skills? Try ice fishing. You’ll learn about fish and lakes, gain patience, get outside, and maybe even get some clean healthy meals out of it.

All The Fish

The Arctic’s only air-breathing fish

a large alaska blackfish held over the ice
a large alaska blackfish held over the ice
A HUGE Alaska Blackfish! (Dallia pectoralis) 📷 Katrina Liebich

Although rarely exceeding 8 inches in length, this tiny Esocid is arguably the hardiest of Alaska’s fish. Most notably, they’re the only air-breathing fish in the Arctic. In fact, only a few fishes in the world can breathe atmospheric oxygen. Thanks to a modified, gas-absorbing esophagus, the Alaska Blackfish can thrive where other fish can’t, like stagnant waters and seasonal tundra ponds. How neat is that?

Alaska Blackfish spend a lot of time on the bottom of lakes and ponds, where they pursue their prey — small aquatic insects and tiny crustaceans. In winter, when dissolved oxygen levels drop under…

All The Fish

Hard water love in the Alaska winter

Image for post
Image for post
Up close with a Burbot 📷 USFWS

Burbot (Lota lota) are the only freshwater gadoid (cod) in North America (check out that chin whisker!). And with a circumpolar range, they’re one of the most widely distributed freshwater fishes in the world.

Hard Water Love

Winter is a great time to fish for Burbot as they move slowly along river and lake bottoms. Burbot also spawn in winter, under the ice, in writhing masses. It’s dark, and they vocalize to each other by rapidly contracting striated muscles attached to their gas-filled swim bladder. The drumming songs they make have similar beats to those of other closely-related marine cod fishes.

A recommendation

U.S.Fish&Wildlife Alaska

Stories from Alaska by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store