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Alaskan Waterfalls

July 28th, 2010

Below are a number of waterfall pictures that I took while in Juneau, Alaska. Comments welcome!

Nugget Falls at Mendenhall Glacier

Click on photo for gallery

Waterfall Waterfall Waterfall Waterfall Waterfall

Waterfall Nugget Falls at Mendenhall Glacier Waterfall Waterfall




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Alaskan Glaciers

July 22nd, 2010

On our trip to Juneau, we had the good fortune to see several glaciers for the very first time. The most famous glacier in Juneau is the Mendenhall Glacier, which the Forest Service maintains several trails to, as well as, a visitor center.

Mendenhall Glacier

We hiked the trail to the glacier, passing a tremendous waterfall, Nugget Falls, and were able to get within 50 yards of the ice block. We were told that the Mendenhall Glacier has been receding for many years, where several decades ago we would have been able to touch it from where we were standing.

Mendenhall Glacier

Huge blocks of ice drifted slowly through the water away from the glacier, gradually melting away into the channel. The range of color from bright white to dark blue was amazing, with the darkest colors being where the most recent chunk of ice separated from the larger mass.

Ice Drift from Mendenhall Glacier

Later in the week we got to see the same glacier in the distance over a field of purple fire-weed. Fire-weed flowers from the bottom up, and the locals told us that they know summer is almost over once the top of the plant is flowering.

Glacier in Background

On a short boat excursion we passed by Herbert Glacier (below), which was quite impressive. This glacier is part of the same Juneau Icefield as the Mendenhall Glacer, with the Mendenhall on the west side of the icefield, and Herbert north of that.

Herbert Glacier

Someday I would love to revisit the Juneau Icefield, and actually hike up to and onto the glacier to explore the various ice caves and habitat. Comments welcome!

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Whale Watching

July 16th, 2010

Yesterday, we were fortunate enough to have a friend take us out on their boat to do some whale watching. We left Auke Bay in the afternoon, and headed out looking for whales coming up for air.

Humpback Whale Blowing

The best way to spot them is to look for their spouts when they clear their blow-holes so that they can breath.

Humpback Whale

We only saw a small portion of the humongous mammals, but even their humped backs (hence the name, humpback whale) were large enough to appreciate their size.

Humpback Whale

During every surfacing, we always hoped that they would bring up their tail and splash it down in the water. We never got any huge splashes, but we did see several tails rise up out of the water.

Humpback Whale Tail

In addition to the tails, we saw one whale who was rolling in the water a little bit, stretching and waving one of its flippers up out of the water.

Humpback Whale

The highlight of the trip for me was probably when we saw a mother cow with her calf. We watched the pair swim together for a few moments before they vanished from sight under the water.

Humpback Cow and Calf

In total, we probably spotted 5-6 whales during our two hour trip, but combined with the excitement of the sightings and the beauty of the mountainous surroundings, it was a wonderful excursion.



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Polygonum Flowers…

July 13th, 2010

I was looking in my emersed setups the other day and noticed that a couple of the Polygonum species I had in there were flowering. The flowers on both of these species are in clusters on the end of a stalk. The flowers themselves are quite small, only a few millimeters across.

Polygonum hydropiperoides

This particular species is a North American native called Polygonum hydropiperoides. It’s a pretty nice plant that can get red underwater, with nice white flowers when blooming.

Polygonum hydropiperoides

Despite being rather small, these flowers are pretty attractive. I especially like the yellow centers. P. hydropiperoides is quite easy to grow and flower in captivity, and I would recommend giving it a try!

Polygonum hydropiperoides

The second plant that was flowering is Polygonum praetermissum, but is often sold in the hobby as Polygonum sp. ‘kawagoeanum’. This one can also get red under high light, and is a very nice highlight plant for aquascapes.

Polygonum sp. 'kawagoeanum'

The leaf shape is very distinctive, looking similar both submerged and emersed. Emersed, roots can sprout at every node, going into the soil as it creeps along somewhat horizontally.

Polygonum sp. 'kawagoeanum'

The P. praetermissum flowers are slightly pink with the flower stalks themselves being a bit more pubescent than the P. hydropiperoides.

Polygonum sp. 'kawagoeanum'

The flowers weren’t quite open yet when I took these pictures, but you can see that they’re still fairly nice looking.

Polygonum sp. 'kawagoeanum'

Both of these plants would make wonderful outdoor pond plants, that would have the potential to reseed themselves and come back after winter. Comments welcome!

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Just Another Bald Eagle…

July 12th, 2010

This morning when I woke up, my wife and I noticed that several dozen bald eagles were outside of our place on the algae flats exposed by the low tide. Several times a day, as the tide comes and goes, a rather large area of land sinks and rises from the water line, which leaves several tidal pools that the birds are interested in. Up until this morning, the most eagles that congregating here was about 5 or 6, but the salmon migration should start very soon, so we surmised that they may have sensed this and were waiting at the creek that flows into the channel here.

Bald Eagle, Juneau, AK

Regardless of there motives, I threw on my boots and headed out the door to try and get close enough to photograph the eagles. I took a wide swinging cautious approach so I wouldn’t startle the birds, and eventually got within 50 feet of this particular eagle. I love the mist in the background, and the brown macroalgae underneath this log. Shortly after taking this photograph, I was navigating the algae and found a particularly soft spot, which left me calf-deep in the mud. Eventually, after removing my boot, I managed to free myself and my footwear, but the birds had flown another 100 feet down the beach. It was time for my morning coffee anyways!

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75G – Updated Photo

July 1st, 2010

Not much new here, but I wanted to post an updated photo nevertheless. The foreground is just about perfect, but the rest is starting to need some thinning out. I’m beginning to think it’s time for a new aquascape in this tank. This one’s lasted for 7 months!

75G - June 28, 2010

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