I know I’ve mentioned the department of fish and game regulations in past posts about seining because of how they dictate our fishing schedule, but I don’t think I’ve said anything about how the programs actually work. Read on if you’re interested…
After doing some boat clean-up yesterday, putting the net away, etc. we are pretty much done with the fishing responsibilities. We'll spend a few days in Craig and then run the boat to Ketchikan, and from there I'll probably fly out to Seattle. Ron has a place up here, so while the weather's still good he wants to get it ready for winter. As a result, I got to see this today.
First, that I can’t represent the feeling of openness out here on the water in a picture. On my favorite days, the sky is covered in high white clouds, and they reflect off the glassy water so that everything is white is far as you can see. It’s beautiful, and I can’t photograph it.
Second, that I can’t take pictures while we’re delivering fish to the tender. The torrent of salmon that comes out of the pipe from our hold is something to see. It’s not just the salmon, it’s also the slimy, bloody water they’ve been held in, which is truly disgusting. But then, there are also the piles of different patterns and shades of silver scales, which are gorgeous and so varied.
We stopped in Hydaburg, a little native community, for a couple of hours this afternoon. While we were walking around, we crossed a bridge over a little creek that was absolutely packed with salmon running upstream. Mostly, they were struggling to get up this one particular rapid that looked impossible. Every once in a while, one of them would jump part of the way up it and then get knocked back down. Eventually some of them will make it, and they’ll spawn further up the creek. Some of them won’t though. What a crummy life. They come out of the stream, swim around for a year, and—if they don’t get eaten by an otter or a porpoise or caught by a net or a hook—fight their way back to where they came from so that, if they’re lucky, they can lay their eggs and then get eaten by a bear.
This is Dennis patching a hole in the net. Guess who made it. A humpback whale! They swim through the nets like they’re not even there. Sometimes they leave holes the size of cars in them. This hole wasn’t bad enough to hold us up for long, but it required some repairs on our day off.
This picture blows. But, this was incredible. Right as we were leaving Tenakee Inlet, this group of humpbacks was working its way around a piece of Chatham Strait making bubble nets one after another after another. A few whales will get together and swim in a circle, making bubbles that create a kind of net. They get closer and closer together, enclosing whatever fish are in between them, and then they swim up through the center with their mouths open. You can’t see anything until they hit the surface. Where they’re coming up is a surprise unless you can find the gulls, who can see the bubbles from above, circling. And after, they repeat the process, getting into the right configuration in a way that you can make out just enough of to tell that its precisely coordinated.
More bad pictures after the jump.
I took these photos the first day I was in Tenakee. Don’t judge the place by the cell phone quality of the pictures.
This is Tenakee Ave. It’s the only street. It has an east side and a west side. It runs for probably two miles and then turns into a trail on either end. Speed limit signs keep the ATVs in check. Not that there’s anyone to write a ticket.
I got to go crabbing! It was so cool! We left here at 5 AM Tuesday, anchored Tuesday night at the mouth of Tenakee Inlet, and got back to town late Wednesday afternoon. I wasn’t allowed to help with anything because I don’t have a crew license, so I got to stand around taking photos and asking questions.
I left out the grosser images, but I’ll warn you about the fishheads…