We had a busy day of activities here in Petersburg, Alaska, or, “the town that fish built.” We arrived at dock shortly after breakfast and were quickly whisked off to our morning adventures. Some guests explored a muskeg bog on Kupreanof Island across the Wrangell Narrows. Others spent time touring the harbor via Zodiac or by biking in a loop around town.
The muskeg hike introduced guests to the strange and soggy environment. It is often hidden from view, but it covers over ten percent of the land surface in Southeast Alaska. Waterlogged soil reduces the growth of aerobic bacteria, causing a buildup of organic matter, a reduction of nitrogen, and an increase in acidity. The combined effects of these conditions lead to exotic plant communities that adapt in fascinating ways to the harsh conditions. These include stunted and gnarled shore pine trees that rarely grow higher than ten feet in height despite representing several hundred years of growth. Other exotic plants include bog rosemary, blueberry, Labrador tea, cotton grass, and bog orchid. The star of the show is clearly the sundew, a plant that attracts, ensnares, and consumes small insects!
After lunch, several groups explored the town and surrounding environs to learn about local history and what it’s like to live in a real Alaskan fishing town. The day concluded with a traditional crab feast in the dining room and an after dinner talk on feeding adaptations of humpback whales. The evening passed while we cruised through Frederick Sound on our way to tomorrow’s adventures.