October 29, 2022

Orange Jelly Spot observation

I went on a hike out on the North Douglas trail called the Rainforest trail and came across a really peculiar fungus on a tree. I had to take a picture of it, because I love weird things in the natural world. I was not exactly sure what it was, even when I was researching it. I got it narrowed down to the Orange Spot Jelly and the Witch's butter, and ultimately decided on the Jelly Spot. I decided this because when I was doing my research, I found a source Bud Logan and a few others that said the Orange Jelly Spot grows mostly on conifers whereas Witch's Butter grows on deciduous trees (Bud Logan). Although, it makes it really confusing, because in most of the sources, they treat both fungi as the same. So for sake of simplicity, I'll refer to them as the same since the main difference is where they grow. One source from Austin Collins talks about how there are people who do eat the mushroom, but that there is not a whole lot of flavor or nutritional value. Mostly, people eat them because they think they help prevent and treat lung ailments (Austin Collins, 2020). I think that there aren't a lot of people who like to eat this mushroom/fungus, but mushroom foraging in Southeast Alaska is a really important part of culture and sense of place, bringing people closer to their land and the nature around them. I began finding and becoming more interested in mushrooms when I got to Alaska, and it continues to become a larger part of my connection to Alaska.

Austin Collins. "Dacrymyces palmatus: The Orange Jelly Fungus." Healing Mushrooms. 2020. https://healing-mushrooms.net/dacrymyces-palmatus

Bud Logan. "Orange Jelly Fungus." gohiking.ca. https://gohiking.ca/orange-jelly-fungus/

Posted on October 29, 2022 01:05 AM by gcadenhead gcadenhead | 1 observation | 0 comments | Leave a comment

October 22, 2022

Amphiporus angulatus observation

The Amphiporus angulatus was the first of the interesting species I uncovered during my time in Alaska. My favorite professor Sherry Tamone, recently retired, took me and two of my friends out to Point Louisa in Juneau, AK and helped us find our chosen species for her invertebrate zoology class. My chosen species were the Amphiporus angulatus or better known as the red nemertean. Regardless of what people know it as, it is a relatively unknown species, however pretty common species in Southeast Alaska. This worm has a cool evolutionary characteristic called a proboscis, where it is able to completely eject its stomach/mouth towards prey in order to capture it. I saw this multiple times while keeping it on my hand, where it consistently tried to shoot it's stomach to eat anything around it in a state of panic. This marine worm is a carnivorous worm that feeds on protozoans and other microfauna with its proboscis. It also live intertidally, in about 50 to 150 feet below sea level (sealifebase.ca). I do not believe many Alaskans use this in many ways, but it is a really interesting animal that plays a role in the intertidal ecosystem. I think it is really interesting that there really is not a whole lot of information on this animal and that not many people know about it. My professor actually made us memorize the genus and species of this animal because it is such an important and overlooked species in the intertidal community.

“Amphiporus Angulatus   (Fabricius, 1774).” Amphiporus Angulatus, Chevron Amphiporus, https://www.sealifebase.ca/summary/Amphiporus-angulatus.

Posted on October 22, 2022 07:02 AM by gcadenhead gcadenhead | 1 observation | 0 comments | Leave a comment

October 15, 2022

Dolly Varden Char (Salvelinus malma)

I took a day to go out to Montana Creek in Juneau to go fishing. I was fortunate enough to have some decent weather in what has been a terrible stretch of rain and wind in Juneau. The bridge that goes over the creek and to Montana Creek trail was blown out from the water level rising rapidly in previous weeks, so I had to wade to get across the creek and started heading upstream. When I got to the end of the trail I began fishing down and found a pocket of deeper and slower moving water that looked great for fish holding and cast into it. Within five casts, I hooked this Dolly Varden. Dollies are commonly associated with trout, but are actually a char (Fish and Game species profile). There are also two different forms of Dolly Varden, southern and northern subspecies, with Juneau and Southeast Alaska having the southern form of them; which differ in the amount of chromosomes and amount of vertebrate, the northern subspecies having more vertebrate allowing them to grow large than the southern ones (Trout Unlimited). You can tell the difference between char and trout by looking at the spots: char have lighter spots (orange in the case of the Dolly Varden), and trout generally have darker spots (Trout Unlimited, 2021). Dolly Varden also vary in color based on spawning stage. When they are in ocean stage, they take on more silvery/blue colors with light orange spots. Then, when they swim into freshwater to begin spawning, they turn grey, green and black hues with their spots more brightly colored and emphasized. Dolly Varden life history is similar to salmon as they swim out to the ocean as juveniles, grow and come back to freshwater to spawn, chasing salmon and eating their eggs the whole way. They differ from salmon in spawning however. Both are anadromous, but salmon are semelparous, meaning they are only able to spawn once in their lifetime. Whereas most char are iteroparous and can spawn multiple times throughout their lifetime.

"Dolly Varden (Salvelinus malma) Species Profile." Alaska Department of Fish and Game. https://www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm?ADFG=DollyVarden.main

Trout Unlimited staff. "Dolly Varden: all you need to know." Trout Unlimited. 6 July 2021. https://www.tu.org/magazine/fishing/dolly-varden-all-you-need-to-know/

Posted on October 15, 2022 04:32 AM by gcadenhead gcadenhead | 1 observation | 0 comments | Leave a comment

October 01, 2022

Yellow-tipped Coral Fungus (Ramaria formosa)

I went out to North Douglas here in Juneau, and walked really far up Fish Creek to look for some more mushrooms, and stumbled upon this interesting mushroom. I have never seen anything like it, and when I began researching it, I could not find a lot of information on it. I settled on the Yellow-tipped Coral Fungus because it is found locally in the Tongass forest and has similar color, stalk and tips. I am almost positive that the genus of this fungus to be Ramaria from blogs and mushroom guides (Bose-Johnson, 2020 and Forest Service, Alaska Region Botany Program, 2013). According to some sources like Bose-Johnson's web blog, coral mushrooms like this one are edible and are commonly used in Asian dishes, but never specifies if Ramaria formosa is one of these mushrooms. This point is supported in the Forest Services mushroom guide on page 33, where it is said that the edibility of coral mushrooms in general is largely unknown, but that larger species of genus Ramaria are regularly collected and eaten. Another blog post by Michael Kuo in 2009, says that this specific species of mushroom is bitter in taste, but never mentions that it is poisonous. I regret the fact that I did not take more pictures or even uproot the mushroom to take home and try. Nowhere does it say that it would be poisonous, or that you would die if you ate it, but I would advise to be 100% sure that you know what it is before eating it. I am sure that Alaskans use this mushroom in some way, if not only just to harvest and eat ones that are edible, but there was not a lot of information on Alaskans specifically harvesting and eating these types of mushrooms.

Bose-Johnson, Margaret. "What are Coral Mushrooms? (And a Few Coral Mushroom Recipes)." Kitchen Frau. 14 July 2020. https://www.kitchenfrau.com/coral-mushroom-recipes/

Mohatt, Kate; Dillman, Karen; Trudell, Steven. "Mushrooms of the National Forests in Alaska." USFS Alaska Region. Illustrations by Mello, Marsha, Photographs by Trudell, Steven. Feb 2013. https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/stelprdb5414170.pdf

Kuo, Michael. "Ramaria formosa." MushroomExpert.com. May 2009. https://www.mushroomexpert.com/ramaria_formosa.html

Posted on October 01, 2022 12:43 AM by gcadenhead gcadenhead | 1 observation | 0 comments | Leave a comment

September 24, 2022

Coastal Cutthroat Trout Observation

I recently went stream sampling with someone from Trout Unlimited to try and discover evidence of anadromy in far stretches of tributaries to Fish Creek on North Douglas. We hike and bush wacked a few miles upstream to the study site. There, we set traps and walked with hand nets to find juvenile Coho Salmons for evidence of anadromy. Although we did not find Coho, we found plenty of cutthroat trout. The only type of cutthroat trout we find in Southeast AK is the Coastal Cutthroat Trout (Oncorhynchus clarkii clarkii), so that is how I knew what type of cutthroat it was. However, distinguishing them from a juvenile Coho Salmon is much more difficult. Identifiers of cutthroat trout include a small orange dot under their lower jaw that eventually turns into the distinctive red lines (hence cutthroat), a larger mouth than juvenile Coho, more spots on their fins, more circular parr marks and Coho have a dark fin ray on their anal and dorsal fins. This information comes from ADF&G's juvenile salmonid ID guide (Weiss 2003), but also from Trout Unlimited researcher Mark Hieronymus who was out there with me. Coastal Cutthroat trout care used by people for several reasons. They are a really fun fish to try and catch in almost every stream in Southeast Alaska. Recreation is a big part of Alaskan culture and past time, being more connected to those around you and to the land. When fishing isn't accessible or populations of other fish are down like this years Coho run, cutthroat provide accessible and fun fishing for all skill levels (Schwanke 2018).

Schwanke, Craig. "Cutthroat Trout in Southeast Alaska Lakes." The Great State of Alaska website. Alaska Department of Fish and Game. Sept. 2018. https://www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm?adfg=wildlifenews.view_article&articles_id=881#:~:text=The%20cutthroat%20trout%20subspecies%20found%20in%20Southeast%20Alaska,Alaska%2C%20especially%20in%20drainages%20with%20a%20lake%20system.

Weiss, Ed. "Juvenile Salmonid and Small Fish Identification Aid." Version 1.1. Alaska Department of Fish and Game. Habitat and Restoration Division. 27 March 2003. https://www.adfg.alaska.gov/static/home/library/pdfs/habitat/adfg_hr_id_cards_v1.1.pdf

Posted on September 24, 2022 12:02 AM by gcadenhead gcadenhead | 1 observation | 0 comments | Leave a comment

September 17, 2022

American Dipper Observation

I found this American Dipper on the side of the stream in Auke Creek. I noticed it originally because of its bulbous shape and cute features, but as I watched it, I realized it was bobbing up and down and thought it was a little strange and probably unique, so I decided to take some pictures and videos and do some research. There are only 5 species of dipper in the world, and this is one of them. The American Dipper is also North America's only aquatic songbird. They get their name from doing exactly what I saw, bobbing and dipping as they perch on a rock or other object near a stream, though it is not known what the reason for this is. Dippers feed underwater in cold streams by diving or wading (ADF&G Species profile). It eats aquatic insects and their larvae, and juvenile fish. They can actually be seen smacking fish and other prey on rocks to knock them out making them easier to ingest (American Dipper, National Park Service). They are well adapted to cold water conditions as they have down feathers, and a preening gland with oil to make their feathers waterproof (ADF&G Species profile). There is not a whole lot that people used the dipper for besides recreation. But there is a nesting ground for the dipper in Kugrak Springs and are one of the few bird species that overwinters in Alaska! I am not usually a big bird watcher but this was a super cool encounter and I hope to see one again.

“American Dipper.” National Parks Service, U.S. Department of the Interior, https://www.nps.gov/gaar/learn/nature/american-dipper.htm#:~:text=One%20of%20the%20few%20species%20that%20may%20overwinter,most%20of%20the%20rivers%20are%20frozen.%20Species%20Profile.

Armstrong, Robert, and Rita O'Clair. “Alaska Department of Fish and Game.” American Dipper, 2008, https://www.adfg.alaska.gov/static/education/wns/american_dipper.pdf.

Posted on September 17, 2022 06:44 AM by gcadenhead gcadenhead | 1 observation | 0 comments | Leave a comment

September 10, 2022

Pink Salmon Mark and Recapture

These Pink Salmon are a part of an independent research project I am doing through the Auke Creek weir and funded by BLaST. People use this species in Southeast Alaska mostly for food. Commercial fisheries utilize the mouths of certain rivers and spawning waters to target the fish in large quantities with large boats. Recently, pink salmon have also been used as an indicator species for stream conditions and habitat as they are usually more affected by changing conditions. We can assume and hypothesize a lot about other pink salmon populations in other watersheds and even other species of salmon in similar or the same watershed based on observations we make with pink salmon in Auke Creek. I started working at the Auke Creek weir this summer and developed an even closer relationship to salmon. For those who don't know, a weir is a man-made barrier that blocks a creek and in the case of Auke Creek, funnels fish into holding tanks so that we can count and sample every single fish coming in and out of the creek. My project focuses on Pink Salmon spawning success and using that information to indicate certain stream health aspects. We tag every female Pink Salmon that comes through the weir, and release it into the stream so that it can carry out the rest of its life. That is what is sticking out of each salmon in the picture just beneath their dorsal fin. Then each day I walk Auke and Lake creek to look for dead female pink salmon that have been tagged, and when I find one, I weigh the remaining eggs in her belly if there are any, and record that data. If more pink salmon are dying without egg release, it could indicate that stream conditions are changing for the worse. Overall, the experience has given me a more appreciative outlook on the natural world, but specifically streams and watershed systems. Doing research like this really puts me at one with my surroundings and I have enjoyed the connection I have been making.

Posted on September 10, 2022 04:28 AM by gcadenhead gcadenhead | 1 observation | 1 comment | Leave a comment


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