Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Alaska Cruise - Day 6, Wednesday May 27

This morning we were in Sitka, there is no dock in Sitka so we had to take a tender to shore. You can see by the picture at the left that Sue loves to have her picture taken. The picture below left is of the bay where the ship was anchored and the bridge is by the dock that we had to take the tender to get ashore. We went on a semi sub excursion that we were able to see some of the local fish, plants, etc. on the ocean floor. There were a lot of star fish, kelp, and a variety of fish. We saw some jelly fish, crab along with other creatures of the ocean.

In the afternoon, I went on a bike & hike tour. We biked two miles to a trail head and then hiked two miles and then biked back to the start. On the hike we saw a few eagles that were bathing in the small lake, and then they would go up in the trees to let the wind dry themselves (Picture at the bottom). We saw a funny site were some small birds would swoop down on the eagles and bug them. Our tour guide said that the eagles will put up with it for a while and the snap they would grab the small birds and that would be the end of them. I’m not sure why the small birds do it, but I sure would not want to be bugging the eagles knowing that could be the end of me.

She also showed us some interesting plants. One was the skunk cabbage (left picture), another the devils club and the last one was the false hellebore. The false hellebore is a poisonous plant that causes irritation if you get the oil on your skin and can cause death if ingested. The devils club has needles on the top and bottom of the leaves as well as the bark of the branches and trunk. The needles are barbed and can be really irritating to some people. If you brush up against the needles, they are very difficult to get out (Pictures at the bottom).

Michelle (our guide) said the best way to tell if bears are around is if you see a lot of skunk cabbage torn up. The bears in this area do not hibernate completely during the winter, but will get up and move around their den, then go back to sleep. The bears when they are ready for the winter will eat rocks that plug up their digestive system. Then in the spring the will come out and dig up the skunk cabbage and eat the roots. The roots are a natural laxative and it loosens them up and their digestive system will start working again. When we got back to the dock we did have a bear siting (right picture)!

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