See Sea Otters at the Alaska SeaLife Center in Seward!

How’s that for a tongue twister? ūüėČ We are so excited to “re-blog” about a wonderful Press Release that went into circulation last week from the Alaska SeaLife Center.

Alaska SeaLife Center

For those of you that aren’t familiar with the Alaska SeaLife Center, please let us explain. This is Alaska‚Äôs only public aquarium and ocean wildlife rescue center is celebrating ten years on the shores of Resurrection Bay. Visitors to this ‚Äúwindow on the sea‚ÄĚ have close encounters with puffins, octopus, sea lions and other sealife while peeking over the shoulders of ocean scientists studying Alaska‚Äôs rich seas and diverse sealife.

Alaska SeaLife Center

They are a private, non-profit corporation with approximately 105 full-time employees and dedicated staff of volunteers and interns. And their mission? “The Alaska SeaLife Center generates and shares scientific knowledge to promote understanding and stewardship of Alaska‚Äôs marine ecosystems.”

Alaska SeaLife Center

Now, onto the super-cute and totally incredible creatures; the Sea Otters! As of July 17, 2014 the Alaska SeaLife Center (ASLC) if currently caring for three young adult sea otters rescued through its Wildlife Response Program.

Sea Otters

All three otters were rescued from Homer, Alaska on separate dates: MoJoe in June 2012, Agnes in April 2013, and Aurora in September 2013. All were originally stranded at less than three months old. At that age, pups require constant care from their mothers. Due to the intensive maternal care required, pups under six months of age are deemed non-releasable by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS).

Sea Otters

The otters will spend the entire summer in Seward while they await a more permanent placement at an approved facility in Europe. This is the first time the Alaska SeaLife Center has been home to this many young adult sea otters at one time. Housing three otters involves a substantial amount of time and care. Because otters eat approximately 25 percent of their body weight daily, feeding these animals is costly. Each otter consumed more than $800 worth of clam, squid, capelin, and shrimp every month.

Sea Otters

MoJoe, Aurora, and Agnes are providing ASLC with a special opportunity to teach visitors about the life history and behavior of sea otters. Visitors to the Center can view the otters in an outside pool from the research overlook or get a closer look during a Sea Otter Behind-the-Scenes (BTS) Tour.

Sea Otters

The otter BTS tour augments the regular BTS tour by including an in-depth discussion of the otters’ rescue and rehabilitation process, as well as their individual habits and characteristics. The tour takes guests to an outside training session where they will spend 15 minutes getting paw-to-paw with these curious creatures. The otters often introduce themselves by making their way right up to the glass to inspect their new visitors. During the training session, ASLC husbandry staff chat about the challenges that go along with caring for such playful and inquisitive animals. The session wraps up with an enrichment activity designed to show off the sea otter’s quick mind and problem-solving skills.

Sea Otters

The Sea Otter Behind-the-Scenes Tour is offered daily at 4:30pm to guests ages 12 and older. Prices for the hour-long tour are $25 for adults and $20 for students (12-17). This tour will only be offered through the end of Summer 2014. So go see the extreme sea otter trio while you can! We promise you will not be disappointed! ūüėČ

Alaska SeaLife Center

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Tie One On, Alaska’s Playground Style!

Photo Courtesy of Ron Niebrugge with Niebrugge Images

Photo Courtesy of Ron Niebrugge with Niebrugge Images

The Kenai River provides phenomenal access to unparalleled salmon fishing and each year millions of salmon make their long journey up the waters of the Kenai River to reach their spawning grounds. The Kenai River late-run sockeye salmon sonar project is located approximately 19 miles upstream from the mouth of the Kenai River. The estimated travel time for sockeye salmon to reach this site once they have entered the Kenai River can be quite variable, ranging from approximately 24 hours to 72 hours.

Photo Courtesy of Kenai River Trout Anglers

Photo Courtesy of Kenai River Trout Anglers

The Kenai River experiences two runs of Sockeye Salmon, or “Reds.” Peak fishing on the Upper River is historically from June 11th until July 1st. The second run, which is typically the larger of the two, is from July 15th through August 10th.

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These impressive fish average around eight pounds. Hooking in to one of these giants is sure to keep your heart pumping and your adrenaline levels high. But once the blood, sweat, and tears is conquered, the gratification and feeling of accomplishment for your FISH ON is simply unparalleled. When fishing on the Kenai River, is is not uncommon at all to see Sockeye Salmon that have sea-lice (a parasite that drops off after 24 hours of being in fresh water) approximately 50 miles upriver. They are fast swimmers that are filled with stamina & endurance & tend to provide the wildest fight of all salmon.

Photo Courtesy of Alaska Legacy Fishing Lodge

Photo Courtesy of Alaska Legacy Fishing Lodge

The number of sockeye entering the river has remained relatively stable and fishing is fair, according to Fish and Game fishing reports. The red salmon have yet to enter the Kenai River en masse, though the thriving personal-use dipnet fishery has seen fair success at the mouth of the Kenai River as the run continues to progress.

Photo Courtesy of Beluga Lookout Lodge & RV Park

Photo Courtesy of Beluga Lookout Lodge & RV Park

In the last week alone¬†just over¬†20, 538 Sockeye Salmon have pushed up into the river, making the cumulative YTD count approximately 343,470 according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s Fish Count Data Search. Beginning in 2011, ADF&G¬†began counting escapement at Kenai River mile 19 using DIDSON rather than the old Bendix sonar. Due to the change in sonar technology, the sustainable escapement goal for Kenai River late-run sockeye salmon was changed to 700,000 ‚Äď 1,200,000 fish counted using DIDSON sonar.

Photo Courtesy of Alaska Fishing with Mark Glassmaker, Inc.

Photo Courtesy of Alaska Fishing with Mark Glassmaker, Inc.

The bag limit on the Kasilof has been increased to 6 per day and 12 in possession while the personal use dipnet fishery on that river has seen its area expanded from the mouth upstream to the Sterling Highway Bridge as Alaska Department of Fish and Game managers work to control the escapement of red salmon up the river.

Photo Courtesy of Afishunt Charters Inc.

Photo Courtesy of Afishunt Charters Inc.

On the Russian River, sockeye salmon fishing my improve over the next few days as late-run reds migrate through the Kenai River, according to Fish and Game’s fishing report.

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In the Lower Cook Inlet, sockeye have been returning to the Tutka Bay Lagoon alongside pink salmon returns.

Photo Courtesy of Tutka Bay Lodge

Photo Courtesy of Tutka Bay Lodge

Many avid fisherman (and women) also keep the Salmon Roe to later cure and use as bait when fishing for other species. Talk about total utilization of your catch! The Kenai River offers an abundance of subsistence living practices.

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Once you catch your very own limit of Sockeye Salmon, you can fillet your meat and used it to make many delicious meals. You can slow smoke it for a tasty “grab and go” treat or to use it in a variety of recipes! For directions on how to smoke your own wild Alaska Sockeye Salmon this season, click HERE!

Photo Courtesy of Beaver Creek Cabins

Photo Courtesy of Beaver Creek Cabins

Another great option is canning your delicious Sockeye Salmon fillets. We love to use canned salmon in pastas, chowders, and patties. But there are a tons of different things that you can do with delicious, sustainable canned Sockeye Salmon. For instructions on how to can your salmon this season, click HERE!

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Grilling your wild Alaska Salmon or cooking it on cedar planks, are another couple of healthy options with¬†favorite that is jam-packed with heart healthy benefits and loads of yummy Omega 3 fatty acids. For more information on the health benefits of eating Wild, Natural, Sustainable Alaska seafood, click HERE! The possibilities in the kitchen (or¬†on the grill)¬†are endless, but one thing is for sure… the eatin’ is very, very good! For more delicious recipes, click HERE!

Photo Courtesy of Foodness Gracious

Photo Courtesy of Foodness Gracious

At the end of the day, one thing is for certain; it’s hard to say “no” to spending a day submerged in this beautiful landscape that we are ever-so fortunate to call our backyard! Until next time, get out and enjoy The Kenai, Alaska’s Playground!

Photo Courtesy of Alaska From Scratch

Photo Courtesy of Alaska From Scratch

 

Mountain Biking Mayhem!

If you are an outdoor enthusiast with a need for speed, Mountain Biking might just be the perfect sport for you to enjoy on The Kenai, Alaska’s Playground! Whether you are new to the sport and considering a new hobby¬†or¬†you are a seasoned pro that carves down mountains and gets air at any foreseen opportunity,¬†the Kenai Peninsula¬†is (hands down) the place for you to be. Throughout this post, we will give you just a tiny appetizer into the feast of trails that are excellent for all of your future mountain biking excursions on Alaska’s Playground!

Photo Courtesy of MTB Project

Photo Courtesy of MTB Project

Devil’s Creek Trail¬†

It is named Devil’s Creek, but the sights that you can experience along the way are absolutely angelic. A¬†10 mile trail from mile 39 Seward Highway to Resurrection Pass Trail. The first 3 miles have gentle up and down grades through spruce/ birch and hemlock forests with occasional open meadows. The trail then climbs steadily but gradually¬†up narrow Devils Creek valley high above the creek for the next 5 miles through areas of brush and open meadows.¬†The trail¬†levels off entering the alpine valley of Devils Pass.¬†Snow can persist at higher elevations until mid June.

Photo Courtesy of MTB Project

Photo Courtesy of MTB Project

And the flora is absolutely stunning along this devilish trek! Thank you to MTB Project for the excellent photos!

Photo Courtesy of MTB Project

Photo Courtesy of MTB Project

Crescent Creek Trail 

This 6.2 mile trail climbs gradually up the narrow valley of Crescent Creek through spruce/birch forest to Crescent Lake. Frequent openings afford views of nearby mountains. Snow can remain on the upper part of the trail until early June.

Photo Courtesy of Life in Alaska

Photo Courtesy of Life in Alaska

To get to this beautiful trail, follow these simple directions: At Mile 45 Sterling Highway turn south onto Quartz Creek Road. Drive past Quartz Creek and Crescent Creek campgrounds to trailhead (Mile 3.5 Quartz Creek Road). Last mile of road before trailhead is not plowed in winter.

Photo Courtesy of Life in Alaska

Photo Courtesy of Life in Alaska

There are some restrictions here to keep in consideration. The trail is closed to motorized vehicles May 1- November 30. Closed to pack/saddle stock April 1- June 30. Not recommended for snowmobiles due to narrow sidehills. Winter travel not recommended past mile 3 due to avalanche hazards.

Photo Courtesy of Life in Alaska

Photo Courtesy of Life in Alaska

Johnson Pass Trail 

23 mile multi-use trail from mile 64 Seward Highway in the north to mile 32.5 Seward Highway in the south. Trail is mostly forested for the first 4 miles on the north end and first 10 miles on the south end. The higher middle section is mostly open subalpine terrain of meadows and brushy areas with views of nearby mountains.

Photo Courtesy of Seward Bike Tours

Photo Courtesy of Seward Bike Tours

Elevation gains are gradual with a few steep sections. Snow can remain at higher elevations until mid June. The snow tends to add a very mystic, magical feeling to any mountain biking excursion. It is always refreshing to ride into the mountains just pondering thoughts about how the trails look in the middle of the snowy, cold Alaskan winters.

Photo Courtesy of Light Stalkers

Photo Courtesy of Light Stalkers

And as with many trails in Alaska, the flora is absolutely breathtaking along the Johnson Pass Trail. To get to the North trailhead: At mile 64 Seward Highway turn south on short access road to trailhead. Directions to the South trailhead: Mile 32.5 Seward Highway. Johnson Pass Trail is closed to motorized vehicles from May 1- November 30. The north end to mile 3.6 is closed to motorized vehicles year round. Johnson Pass Trail is closed to pack/saddle stock April 1- June 30.

Photo Courtesy of Analogial Planet

Photo Courtesy of Analogial Planet

Resurrection Pass Trail North

A local favorite, Resurrection Pass Trail offers day or multi-day backcountry hiking or biking adventures. A 39 mile trail that climbs from 500 to 2600 feet, visitors can reserve one or all of eight public use cabins along the route. Along the way, linger to fish in Trout, Juneau, and Swan Lakes, climb any of the ridges that line the trail and take in spectacular views, or just relax on your cabin porch.

Photo Courtesy of 2 Tired Tracks

Photo Courtesy of 2 Tired Tracks

Northern segment of a 39 mile multi-use trail between the Hope and Cooper Landing areas. Trail follows the narrow Resurrection Creek valley through spruce/birch forest, past gold mining areas, gradually climbing into an alpine valley after 17 miles. Snow can remain in the pass until mid-June.

Photo Courtesy of 2 Tired Tracks

Photo Courtesy of 2 Tired Tracks

Directions: At mile 15 Hope Highway in Hope turn south onto Resurrection Creek Road. Travel 4 miles to trailhead parking. The last mile to the trailhead is not plowed in winter. Restrictions: Resurrection Pass Trail is closed to motorized vehicles from May 1- November 30 and will be closed to motorized vehicles during the 2010-11 winter season. Resurrection Pass Trail is closed to pack/saddle stock from April 1- June 30.

Photo Courtesy of Wild Nature Images, Ron Niebrugge

Photo Courtesy of Wild Nature Images, Ron Niebrugge

Resurrection Pass Trail South 

Southern segment of a 39 mile multi-use trail between the Cooper Landing and Hope areas. Trail climbs gradually the first 3 miles through spruce/ birch forest above the Kenai River. It then levels off as it enters the wide Juneau Creek valley passing by lakes, muskegs and groves of aspens. After 13 miles it climbs above the trees into an alpine valley. Snow can remain at higher elevations until mid-June.

Photo Courtesy of Amerika Bulteni

Photo Courtesy of Amerika Bulteni

Directions: At mile 53.2 Sterling Highway turn north into trailhead parking area. Recommended winter access is via West Juneau Road just west of this trailhead. Park at highway pullout then follow this unplowed road 2.4 miles. Turn left following orange diamond markers fro 1.6 miles to Resurrection Pass Trail. Alternate winter access via Bean Creek Trail. At mile 47.7 Sterling Highway turn onto Bean Creek Road and follow 1 mile to Slaughter Ridge Road. Turn right and follow for 0.5 mile to end of plowed road and park. Then follow unplowed road 1.3 miles to Bean Creek Trail. Follow 1.8 miles to Resurrection Pass Trail.

Photo Courtesy of A Trail Called Life

Photo Courtesy of A Trail Called Life

Resurrection Pass Trail is closed to motorized vehicles from May 1- November 30. Resurrection Pass Trail is closed to pack/saddle stock from April 1- June 30.

Photo Courtesy of A Trail Called Life

Photo Courtesy of A Trail Called Life

Russian Lakes Trail 

This trail is amazing! A 21 mile multiple-use trail from Russian River Campground to Cooper Lake Road. Trail follows the valley of the Russian River, past Lower and Upper Russian Lakes then gradually climbs to the area at the head of Cooper Lake. Mostly wooded with frequent open areas with views of mountians and lakes. Snow can remain on the upper end of the trail into the early part of June.

Photo Courtesy of Wild Nature Images, Ron Niebrugge

Photo Courtesy of Wild Nature Images, Ron Niebrugge

There are two ways to access the Russian Lakes Trail; Lower & Upper. Lower (north) end: At mile 52.6 Sterling Highway turn south into Russian River Campground. Trailhead parking area is 1 mile further. Winter parking is at campground entrance station.

Photo Courtesy of MTBR Forums

Photo Courtesy of MTBR Forums

Upper (east) end: At mile 48 Sterling Highway in Cooper Landing turn south onto Snug Harbor Road. This turns into Cooper Lake Road after 9 miles. It is 3 miles further to the trailhead parking area. Winter parking is at 0.3 mile Cooper Lake Road.

Photo Courtesy of MTBR Forums

Photo Courtesy of MTBR Forums

Restrictions: Russian Lakes Trail is closed to motorized vehicles year round between Russian River Campground and Upper Russian Lake Cabin. The remainder of the trail is closed to motorized vehicles from May 1- November 30. Russian Lakes Trail is closed to pack/saddle stock from April 1- June 30.

Photo Courtesy of MTBR Forums

Photo Courtesy of MTBR Forums

So now that we’ve paraded on a bit about¬†a teenie-tiny,¬†small fraction of some of the many incredible Mountain Biking trails on The Kenai, Alaska’s Playground – tell us; what is your favorite trail to venture down when you have a day off?

Photo Courtesy of Wild Nature Images, Ron Niebrugge

Photo Courtesy of Wild Nature Images, Ron Niebrugge

These trails are also wonderful for hiking, fishing, wildlife viewing. Be sure to always go into the wilderness prepared with bear spray or another form of protection encase you encounter a bear. Mosquito spray is also a MUST in the woods.¬†Do you need any more recommendations? If so, visit us (Kenai Peninsula Tourism Marketing Council) online, or feel free to submit any of your incredible experiences, feedback, suggestions, or questions below. We look forward to hearing from you, and we thank you for being loyal friends and for sharing our passion for Alaska’s Playground!

Photo Courtesy of Duffyville

Photo Courtesy of Duffyville

The colors of summer are alive on Alaska’s Playground! Get out and and embrace the magic UP CLOSE & PERSONAL!

Sources: http://www.kenaipeninsula.org, http://www.wildnatureimages.com, http://www.fs.usda.gov/