Every other week, a bright pink sign pops up along Unalaska’s main road advertising a makeshift gambling parlor. In hand-painted black lettering, it lays out the stakes and discourages any young whippersnappers under 19 from even trying to participate. This game is very much for grownups. For two years, KUCB’s Alexandra Gutierrez has driven by it and wondered what exactly went on there. Now, she takes us into the seedy underbelly of Unalaska’s senior center.
There’s a baby boom going on with Alaska’s humpback whales. Slow-but-steady population growth is good news for the species, as well as whale-watchers. But it could be bad news for boaters, hatcheries and the herring fleet.
In Barrow, the sun has set until January. In Fairbanks, residents have five hours and 22 minutes of sunlight right now. So in comparison, Anchorage’s six and a half hours of sun each day sounds generous. Still, that leaves quite a bit of time for dark in the state’s largest city.
Although the sale of wild caught exotic birds has been banned in the US for decades, commercial breeders in the country make a variety of parrots and parakeets available for pet lovers. But they are challenging pets. And because some owners give them up, there are more parrots in Alaska than there are homes for them.
Surviving winter in Alaska is not easy for us humans, and for honeybees, it’s even harder. Honeybees don’t naturally exist in North America. And in northern climates the flowering season is too short and the winter is too long. But a few dedicated beekeepers in the state are working on ways to keep their hives alive, despite the obstacles.
Elections, stormy weather, the impending winter darkness, we all need to take a deep breath this time of year. Luckily, our bodies can’t forget to breathe. But we have all forgotten when and how breathing originated. But scientists at the University of Alaska Fairbanks may have discovered the origins of the process. And they have found the answer in a primitive fish that still swims Alaska’s rivers.
Haunted buildings and ghost stories are popular around Halloween, but a newer tradition that combines the two has made its way to Anchorage. For the past two years one man has undertaken the chilly task of leading ghost tours of Anchorage.
Dogs are an important part of life in Alaska. They are revered as great athletes and celebrated as trusty companions. And when Bethel reporter Mark Arehart moved to the state recently, he had no trouble jumping on the dog loving bandwagon. He eagerly anticipated owning his first dog, and a few months ago, he brought home an adorable sled dog puppy. We’ll let him take the story from there.
Devil’s club is probably best known as a plant to avoid at all costs. But several small Southeast Alaska companies have a different take. They’re turning the roots, stems and bark of the plant into rubs and salves to treat sore joints and damaged skin. Sitka is the center of the growing industry.
In Southeast Alaska, the last cruise ship visit is as much a signal of the season’s changing as the weather. And in Sitka, the residents have created something of a ritual to mark the season’s end.
What comes to mind when you think of a school lunch menu? Tater tots? Sloppy Joes? Chocolate Milk? Instead, imagine quinoa or brown rice, locally-grown salad or roasted brussel sprouts and baked fish or homemade pizza with whole grain crust. That’s the direction some U.S. schools are headed as they try to serve healthier meals and teach kids more about nutrition and exercise. Two Alaska districts are getting some national recognition for their efforts on that front.
They say birds of a feather flock together. But try telling that to a small, brightly colored songbird that showed up in Bethel last month. The unusual bird is thousands of miles outside of his normal range. And he hasn’t started flying south yet. That has many birders wondering why he sticking around and if he’s going to try to survive the harsh Alaska winter.
Thousands of black brants nest each spring on a piece of marshy tundra near Chevak, in Western Alaska. And for nearly three decades, the small geese have been the research focus of biologist Jim Sedinger. In 1984, the University of Nevada Reno professor decided the brants would be good subjects for a long term study on a bird population. This summer, he brought an audio recorder out into the field.
Until the late Nineties, Adak was a bustling military base. It had a bowling alley, a movie theatre, and housing for thousands. Now, with the Navy gone, the Aleutian town sits mostly empty. There’s a chance Arctic drilling could turn it into a boom town, but right now, the place feels like a collection of modern ruins. KUCB’s Alexandra Gutierrez traveled Adak to find out what it’s like to live among them.
For many residents of Tenakee Springs, in Southeast Alaska, life revolves around the community bath house, which is fed by the hot springs that give the town its name. Now, this old local institution is receiving a very 21st century renovation, as local people have raised money to convert the building to geothermal heat, putting a modern spin on the town’s ancient resource.
Five years ago, Peter Williams was depressed and an alcoholic, hitting bottom. Now, he’s a successful artist in Sitka who hunts sea otters and sews mittens, scarves, and other products from their fur. He says learning how to hunt marine mammals offered him ‘a place to heal.’
North America’s only Permafrost Research tunnel is pretty nondescript from the outside. But a small brown building built into a hillside by the Army Corps of Engineers in the late 1960’s is actually the gateway to nearly 40-thousand years-worth of geology, ice and history. Few Alaskans know it exists, but that might change this weekend when, the Corps hosts the first ever Permafrost Tunnel Open House.
Kids can learn to be an astronaut at Space Camp. For song and dance, maybe it’s off to Broadway camp. Fish science? For that, there’s no better place than Bristol Bay Salmon Camp. Nine high schoolers from around Alaska learned aquatic science skills as they studied the ecosystem of spawning salmon in Wood TikChik State Park recently.
It’s no secret that Alaskans love their beer, and in Anchorage it’s showing now more than ever. Established local breweries are constantly expanding and new smaller operations are always popping up. David Waldron recently tracked the adventure of one such brewery.
A library is more than a collection of books. In a small town like Sutton in the Matanuska Valley, the library serves many functions. It’s a meeting place for people of all ages, a storehouse of information, and a door allowing a peek into the community’s past. Sutton residents have worked for years to raise funds for a new library, and last month, that dream became reality.