Warren Island and Sea Otter Sound

We finally have some Internet again so I’ll get back to our explorations. After jumping across from Baranof Island (before the seas picked up), we stopped for a day to do some beach combing on remote Warren Island.

It’s exposed to the ocean so the beaches collect an interesting array of flotsam and jetsam, even on the east side (that faces away from the ocean). The swell can wrap around the island and carry things to the lee side. Imagine the force of the waves that can hurl massive logs far up on the beach!

In addition to the logs, there’s a sad amount of plastic trash – particularly fishing gear with Japanese writing on it. On a stop here a few years ago I found a rare glass float, but this time it was just plastic. We took small things back to the boat to recycle, but a lot of it was too big to manage.

Despite the trash, it’s a beautiful island with dark gray sand and craggy rocks.

From Warren we headed into Sea Otter Sound which has, as the name suggests, lots of sea otters. This area, on the NW side of Prince of Wales Island, has seen considerable logging activity. Some is still going on today.

We found a small community at Edna Cove which grew up out of the logging and fishing industries, home to less than 50 people.

If you look at the map up top you’ll see that there are a gazillion little islands with endless nooks and crannies. We looked for anchorages with likely salmon streams in the hopes of seeing bears, but had no joy there. We saw plenty of places with schools of fish wanting to go upstream, but I suspect the drought might be making the streams too shallow for them. In one of the anchorages there were no less than 20 salmon leaping in the air at any given moment! At the mouth of streams the water looks like it’s boiling with the masses of fish.

I had to console myself with some berry picking, and I found lots of places with huckleberries… here’s what’s left for tomorrow’s breakfast. Yum!

Bird watching was very good in Sea Otter Sound and up into the lower part of El Capitan Passage – more rhinocerous auklets, murres, goldeneyes, mergansers, and these red-necked grebes.

The weather was settling down again and we decided to head south and visit some new spots – the towns of Klawock and Craig on Prince of Wales (POW) Island. The path to get there involved lots of wiggling around islands and rocks, narrow passes and through beautiful wild scenery.

The photo above shows the view in one of the bays – notice the vertical clouds coming off the mountains and land. It’s a great visual to show how the land heats up faster than the water during the day, causing that uprising air mass and drawing the wind onshore.

In addition to the natural beauty, we occasionally saw signs of logging activity. It’s not pretty, but on the other hand there are so many trees in the Tongass that we can probably spare some. Sensible, managed logging (and leaving old growth alone) means jobs and materials to build with – so it’s a tradeoff.

Living in Alaska we continue to learn more about the wealth of resources our state has, and about the balance of protecting them while also using them. We don’t like to see things like the bare hillside in the photo above, but we do like to be able to go to the lumber yard and buy 2x4s to build with. It’s not black-and-white. Fishing is much the same, where commercial fishing seasons and species are managed to insure good returns now and well into the future. The key is balance, and protecting the future of all the resources.

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