All The Fish

Growing up as she did in a small Wisconsin town, Riley always gravitated to the outdoors. With family who instilled a sense of independence and adventure, she learned to explore her surroundings on foot and skis, then took to rock climbing and rafting, developing an intense interest in wildlife and wildlands along the way.

woman fishing on a dock
woman fishing on a dock
Riley takes a cast into Anchorage’s Little Campbell Lake. 📷 USFWS/Katrina Liebich

My grandma played a critical role in my childhood and my curiosity about nature,” says Riley. “She had this inexplicable sense of the way the world worked. She spoke magically about plants and animals, all the way down to the stinkbugs in her house.


All The Fish

Harbingers of spring and fresh hope

a small fish in a hand
a small fish in a hand
A male Eulachon. Males are bumpy and firm; females are smooth and soft. 📷 Katrina Liebich

Adapted from a conversation with guests Ted Hart from the Chilkoot lndian Association and Meredith Pochardt from Haines, Alaska. Listen to the full “Fish of the Week” podcast episode about Eulachon here.

What’s in a name?

The American Fisheries Society has settled on Eulachon, but there are others.

The local name I hear a lot is ooligan. It’s like o-o-l-i-g-a-n. And oolichon. Many people say hooligan, and the traditional name for them is saak, s-a-a-k. That’s the Tlingit name.

Candlefish. Once dried, they’re so oily, you can literally light them on fire.

Salvation fish.


Pollinators

Native bees in the Land of the Midnight Sun

bumblebee on a purple flower
bumblebee on a purple flower
A bumblebee visits wild geranium in Alaska. 📷 Lisa Hupp

There are over 20,000 bee species worldwide, and approximately 100 call Alaska home—ranging from social bumblebees to four types of solitary bees and a few others in between. They play an important role pollinating plants, including wild berry-picking favorites.


Wetlands

The watery world of Selawik National Wildlife Refuge

windy river and oxbows with clouds and mountains in the background
windy river and oxbows with clouds and mountains in the background
Oxbows and ponds surround the Selawik River. 📷 USFWS/Steve Hillebrand

Why are two and a half million acres of land in Northwest Alaska conserved as a wildlife refuge? What makes this place so special? In a word, wetlands. The lands that today make up Selawik National Wildlife Refuge, and that are the homeland of generations of Iñupiat, are top-notch wildlife habitat consisting largely of wetlands.


COVID pandemic underscores connections

I think one of the things that COVID has laid to bare in our rural communities…that you’re seeing more apparently, are the connections between things like food security, mental well-being, and cultural sovereignty.” — Arctic Youth Ambassador Samuel Uuyavuk Schimmel

March 2020 was set to be an eventful one for a group of young bright Alaskans. Those young people — the third and latest cohort of the Arctic Youth Ambassadors (AYA) Program — were packing their bags for Anchorage, where they would be taking part in the AYA Program’s orientation summit. Through a multi-day event at the Anchorage Museum, the…


Virtual Arctic Refuge Bird Festival

Spring Arrivals in the Arctic

Migratory birds connect us to the wider world. In spring, when birds arrive from hundreds or even thousands of miles away, we marvel at the distances they’ve traveled, the places they’ve been. Birds don’t heed borders or language barriers. They transcend them in every sense, soaring beyond the confines of the human-built world and showing us — when we take the time to look — how interconnected we are as inhabitants of this planet.

Two Dunlin sandpipers chase one another on a tundra road
Two Dunlin sandpipers chase one another on a tundra road
Dunlin in the Arctic. 📷USFWS/Peter Pearsall

Spring migration brings birds from around the world to Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to breed. Many of the birds migrating through the lower 48 eventually make…


Careers

Two Decades of Service to Alaska

In Alaska, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service employs a small army of dedicated and passionate staff with a large spectrum of roots. Some were born and raised in Alaska. Others have come from around the world. Regardless, some stay to do a job they feel is important enough to spend a lifetime doing. Like Greg Siekaniec, who has served the people of Alaska in numerous roles across the state for nearly two decades.

Greg Siekaniec gives a warm handshake to 90 year old internment survivor Haretina Krukoff
Greg Siekaniec gives a warm handshake to 90 year old internment survivor Haretina Krukoff
Greg Siekaniec gives a warm handshake to 90 year old internment survivor Haretina Krukoff following the USFWS’s apology 📷 USFWS/Lisa Hupp

Where are you from? How did you get introduced into nature?

I grew up in Minnesota—the western prairie region—and was fortunate enough to have exposure to what I call the “lakes country.” My parents had a cabin…


All The Fish

Metallic. Salmon turn steely too when they enter the salt as young smolts. And while they may share the same genus and species as Rainbow Trout, something bigger draws Steelhead to leave their birth rivers for the open water.

silvery fish with a fly in its mouth in the water
silvery fish with a fly in its mouth in the water
Steelhead Trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss). 📷 Mark Hieronymus

Listen to the full conversation with Trout Unlimited’s Mark Hieronymus and retired Alaska Department of Fish and Game biologist Roger Harding about this special variety of Rainbow Trout on episode 17 of Fish of the Week!


Shorebirds

Lessons of Patience and Resilience

A backlit shorebird with a geolocator tag perches in a spruce tree
A backlit shorebird with a geolocator tag perches in a spruce tree
A banded Lesser Yellowlegs atop a black spruce on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson (JBER). A metal band, a dark green color band, an alpha character leg flag and in some instances, a 4g Argos PinPoint satellite-GPS unit are deployed on captured adults. 📷 USFWS/Alec Blair

I read that Lesser Yellowlegs are under-studied on their breeding grounds because they nest in inhospitable environments: difficult to access and mosquito-ridden, boreal bogs. That doesn’t sound like the most romantic fieldwork location, and those conditions definitely weren’t how I imagined wild Alaska prior to visiting the state. However, where the birds are, the birders are — and in this case, the ornithologists.


All The Fish

Living Dinosaurs of the Pacific Coast

We sat down with sturgeon biologists Laura Heironimus and Ken Lepla to talk about two living dinosaurs found along the Pacific Coast. (Listen to the full conversation on episode 16 of Fish of the Week!).

3 men holding a large sturgeon by a boat
3 men holding a large sturgeon by a boat
An adult White Sturgeon held boat-side in the Snake River. 📷 Ken Lepla/Idaho Power Company

Green and White Sturgeon are found throughout the major river basins on the West Coast of North America—the Columbia, Sacramento-San Joaquin, Snake and Fraser. That said, these wanderers can be found from California to Alaska in freshwater, in saltwater, and all the estuaries in between.

U.S.Fish&Wildlife Alaska

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

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