Tag Archives: photo

Crossing the Border

The United States will open the land borders with Canada and Mexico to fully vaccinated travelers in November. This will come as welcomed news to many border communities after 19 months of having the borders closed to visitors.


The American Lion

Skull of an American Lion, discovered in Alaska

The American Lion went extinct approximately 11,000 years ago. A sister lineage to the European Cave Lion, the American Lion was 25% larger than today’s African Lion. In fact, they may well have been the largest feline to prowl the Earth’s surface, standing 3.9 feet at the shoulder. The saber-toothed cat was more stout and muscular, and the American Lion more lean. The two predators hunted in a very different style, with evidence showing the lion being built for speed.

Home range of the American Lion

The American Lion ranged from Alaska through much of what is now the western and central United States, Mexico and into South America.

Artist depiction of the American Lion

I’ve written on here before about the steppe bison at the Museum of the North that is on exhibit. The bison was quickly frozen after its death, and preserved in the permafrost. On its flanks, one can see the claw and bite marks from an American Lion.

There is some debate as to whether the species was actually a lion, or from the tiger or jaguar lineage, but most classify the species as being a sister line to the European Cave Lion, which was isolated after many thousands of years.

A complete skeleton of an American Lion

The above skeleton of an American Lion came from the La Brea Tar Pits, but there were relatively few found in the pits compared to the saber-toothed tiger. One theory is that the American Lion had one of the largest brain cavities of any feline, so it’s possible most of them were smart enough to avoid the tar.

No matter how you look at it, the American Lion was one, big cat. It must have been an impressive sight.


Otis retakes Chunky Crown

Otis enjoying a salmon meal

A little bit of controversy this year for Fat Bear Week. Otis beat out Walker for the fattest bear of Brooks Falls. This may have been a bit of a popularity contest in 2021, with Team Otis coming out in droves to vote for the fan favorite. With that said, it is hard to dismiss the amount of weight that Otis put on in just a few short months. It was a lot of poundage, especially considering that Otis showed up at the river later than usual this summer, and that he is now missing two canine teeth, and many of his teeth are worn down.

Congrats to the now 4-Time Champ, and best wishes in the off season.


Battle of the Bruins

Fat Bear Week Title Match:

Bear 480, more widely known as Otis

Otis is no newcomer to Fat Bear Week. A three time winner of the championship, Otis was the inaugural winner back in 2014. He also took the title in 2016 & 2017. First identified at Brooks Falls in 2001, he is one of the older bears in Katmai. A patient fisher, Otis rarely chases salmon, and has one of the higher catch rates at Brooks Falls. One of Katmai’s all-time fan favorites, the aging bruin once again appears in the finals.

Walker, or Bear 151

Walker first showed up at Brooks Falls in 2009 as a two year old. Once known as a tolerant, playful bear, Walker has become a lot less tolerant as he has aged. As he has grown into a larger, dominate male, Walker has realized he can throw his weight around to gain prime fishing spots. Estimated to have weighed in at 1000 pounds last autumn, Walker looks to be even bigger in 2021.

Voting for the title round takes place today. Polls close at 5pm ADT.

https://explore.org/fat-bear-week?fbclid=IwAR2bAe6uPjVl6RnBELlWRCMUfMhP8O5E8tg0lUNGuWK-Zwm-1YG5Wgy0L34

Images and descriptions courtesy of Katmai National Park and explore.org


First Snowfall

The first snowfall of the season welcomed Interior residents on Friday morning, and snow continued to fall throughout the day. Fairbanks received roughly 2.5″, while areas around us received quite a bit more.


Cub Growth

Bear #132

Bear 132 is a spring cub. 132 is one of two surviving cubs from a litter of three. It put on a lot of weight, and a lot of hair. In the September photo, 132 weighs an estimated sixty pounds.

Bear #128

Bear 128 is a yearling, and the daughter of fan favorite Grazer. Grazer is a bold salmon catcher, and 128 is following that lead. By the end of this summer, 128 was catching her own leaping salmon. Park staff have not seen a yearling regularly catch salmon from the lip of Brooks Falls. A future Fat Bear Champion in the making?

Photo credit: Katmai National Park


Peaking Out

Somewhere around Fairbanks

I believe we have hit peak autumn colors in the Fairbanks area this past weekend.


Tire Changeover

Getting serious in Wrangell-St Elias; Photo credit: NPS

It’s tire changeover time in the northern half of Alaska. Studded tires can now be put on the vehicles, as of September 16th. Remember, if you procrastinate, the lines at the tire shop only get longer.

Think it’s too early to put on the set of Blizzaks?

Hatcher Pass, Alaska; Photo credit: Alaska State Parks

This is an image from Hatcher Pass on Thursday, which is in the southern half of the state, and must remain stud-free until October 1.


The First Sections of Pipe

The Alaska Maru

On this date in 1969, the first shipment of pipe for the Trans-Alaska Pipeline landed in Valdez, Alaska. On board the Alaska Maru was enough pipe for 8.6 miles of the proposed 800 mile pipeline. There were 1160 sections of 40 foot long pipe, weighing 5 tons each.

Alaska received on average, three shipments a month from Japan. It took ten days for the pipe to travel from Japan to Alaska. The first 300 miles were unloaded at Valdez, and 500 miles to Seward, Anchorage and “other” ports in the state for distribution along the line. The final 150 miles of pipe were trucked up the Haul Road to Prudhoe Bay.


If Curtiss-Wright designed ceiling fans