Find out more about the fascinating subjects on Encounters
like polar bears, caribou, boreal forests, bird migration and humpback whales.
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Text by Liz McKenzie and Photos by Richard Nelson
Alaska's Wild Salmon
Wild salmon are one of the earth’s most extraordinary sustainable and renewable resources. They nourish our bodies, enrich our cultural traditions, and support our economies. And salmon are crucial to the health of living communities in the ocean, in fresh water and on the land.
Imagine waking up to a May sunrise and hearing a bright new song in the back yard. It takes a sharp eye to pick out the singer, a miniature bird with a voice as brilliant as its gleaming golden feathers.
In the North summers are fleeting and winters long—up to 8 months—and brutally cold. Temperatures can plunge to minus 70 degrees. Gales make it feel even colder, and deep or drifted snow can make simply moving around an energy-draining ordeal.
As whales go, humpbacks aren't the biggest—a "mere" 40-45 feet long compared to 60 foot sperm whales and 100 foot blue whales—the biggest animal that has ever lived. But humpbacks are arguably the best loved and they're definitely the biggest show offs of all the cetaceans.
If ever there was a creature with a confusing mix of body parts, the moose is it. Some parts seem too big—the outsized nose and huge ears, a bulked-up torso and massive rack. Other parts seem too small—long, slender, racehorse legs holding everything up and a ridiculously stubby tail.
Imagine a creamy-white mountain moving gracefully across a frozen sea. Imagine a land mammal morphing over time into a marine mammal—now with a thick insulating layer of fat for protection against frigid arctic cold, and hollow hairs that trap air to keep it warm and buoyant in freezing water.
Scientists at Work
Meet the researchers who study our world, who reveal the beauty and magic of nature, and whose research contributes to building a more successful and sustainable relationship to the earth.