A Day of Firsts

May 26, 2016 Posted by: Kaitlyn Kunce
There is a first time for everything, and for many rangers this summer, it’s our first time at Katmai National Park and Preserve. Monday was the first time I have ever flown in a small bush plane. It was the first time I had ever been to Swikshak Bay, and the first time I had seen the Pacific Ocean. It was also the first time I had participated in a Marine Debris Survey. 
 
Overseen by NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Marine Debris Survey completed by Katmai is a standing-stock survey. This type of survey provides information on the amount and types of debris on the shoreline. A set transect of 100 meters is assessed two to three times a year. In this survey debris is not collected. This helps understand the total load of debris and its overall impact. It was my first time not picking up litter. It’s a strange concept for us to not pick it up. However, when you have no way to take it out of the wilderness, it becomes a learning opportunity.  
Rangers Kelsey and Carissa measure debris for the Marine Debris Survey. NPS Photo/Kaitlyn Kunce
The day however, was not done giving up “firsts”. As my coworkers and I were taking a break and sitting on the beach, I saw an animal heading in our direction. “It’s a wolf!” I said, “What’s in it’s mouth?”
 Wolf with sea otter pup. Swikshak Bay NPS Photo/Kaitlyn Kunce
The coast is a great place to view wolves. What has intrigued scientists is how wolves interact with the nearshore environment. We have seen wolves catch fish at Brooks Falls and have seen wolf packs on the coast. In the last several years there have been a couple reports of wolves eating sea otter. Does this mean that the wolves are catching them, or did they just find a carcass? If the wolves are preying on them, does it happen on those very rare occasions when otters come ashore to rest? Little is known about the relationship between wolves and otters, but yesterday we saw a small glimpse of it. 

The otter looked to be a pup. Had it died and washed up near the beach? Was it sick? Was it abandoned and if so, what had happened to it’s mother? The wolf’s fur appeared to be wet up to it’s shoulders, suggesting it may have gotten into the shallow water. The wolf traveled along the beach carrying the otter far from the water-line. It passed by us, took one glance back, then continued on. 
Wolf with sea otter pup. Swikshak Bay NPS Photo/Kaitlyn Kunce
“That was insane, I can’t believe that just happened!” As Ranger Kelsey spoke, I was quiet. How could I process what I just saw? I saw a predator of the land with a predator of the sea. This isn’t the only relationship between terrestrial and marine wildlife we don’t know enough about. The Changing Tides Project is working to learn about the connection between brown bears and the nearshore environment. There has been evidence that bears may be preying on otters and other marine animals. In a couple places along the coast, remote cameras have been set up to see how that is happening. Maybe we will see a bear catch an otter or seal. 

Maybe we will see more, maybe a wolf catching an otter, maybe another first. 

Ranger Kaitlyn 
Find out more on the Changing Tides Project.
Ranger Kaitlyn is the Science Communicator and will be working with Ranger David and Daniel this summer.

Otter, Wolf, science, Swikshak Bay, Marine Debris Survey




21 Comments Comments icon

  1. May 30, 2016 at 02:30
     

    Your wolf story adventure is very interesting. The grey wolf (I think) has been taken off endangered spicies list here and controlled harvest is available to hunters.

     
  2. May 27, 2016 at 08:31
     

    Welcome! And thank you so much for sharing your incredible images and insight! Looking forward to another amazing season!! :)

     
  3. May 27, 2016 at 08:17
     

    Amazing pics ~ thanks for sharing your experience with us.

     
  4. May 26, 2016 at 08:02
     

    Been to Katmai and had lunch with the bears not to far from the beach. Experience of a lifetime. Loved it. Watched a bear dig for clams. Can't wait to get back to AK. Great shots of the wolf; enjoy your stay.

     
  5. May 26, 2016 at 06:31
     

    I have been to Katmai twice and 4 times to Brooks Falls. This July will be my 5th. My most favorite place in the world!

     
  6. May 26, 2016 at 06:31
     

    I have been to Katmai twice and 4 times to Brooks Falls. This July will be my 5th. My most favorite place in the world!

     
  7. May 26, 2016 at 06:13
     

    Welcome to Katmai and Brooks. Love that Nature constantly provides us new wonders and adventures. Thanks for sharing your story. I am looking forward to future posts and blogs.

     
  8. May 26, 2016 at 04:04
     

    Katmai Nature is full of wonder! Thank you for sharing your experiences with us.

     
  9. May 26, 2016 at 04:04
     

    Katmai Nature is full of wonder! Thank you for sharing your experiences with us.

     
  10. May 26, 2016 at 03:40
     

    A unique experience for you to capture .... great pictures. Thanks

     
  11. May 26, 2016 at 03:37
     

    I imagine that was shocking to see a wolf with an otter. The wolf looked like it needed nourishment. How exciting for you up there. And thanks for sharing. We all love to read whats happening up there.

     
  12. May 26, 2016 at 02:25
     

    Great pictures and story. Nature is truly amazing and it's so cool when you capture the oddities and unusuals in a picture. Thanks for sharing.

     
  13. May 26, 2016 at 02:25
     

    Great pictures and story. Nature is truly amazing and it's so cool when you capture the oddities and unusuals in a picture. Thanks for sharing.

     
  14. May 26, 2016 at 02:21
     

    Thank you for the pictures and the account of your experience. We look forward to more of your stories.

     
  15. May 26, 2016 at 02:21
     

    Thank you for the pictures and the account of your experience. We look forward to more of your stories.

     
  16. May 26, 2016 at 02:21
     

    Thank you for the pictures and the account of your experience. We look forward to more of your stories.

     
  17. May 26, 2016 at 01:31
     

    TY much and welcome to Brooks, iam looking forward to see you at the cams during live chat at Brooks. great sighting from the wolf!!

     
  18. May 26, 2016 at 01:24
     

    Thanks for the great story and pictures. I look forward to reading more reports of your firsts, seconds and thirds this season at Katmai.

     
  19. May 26, 2016 at 01:23
     

    Thanks for the great story and pictures. I look forward to reading more reports of your firsts, seconds and thirds this season at Katmai.

     
  20. May 26, 2016 at 01:23
     

    Thanks for the great story and pictures. I look forward to reading more reports of your firsts, seconds and thirds this season at Katmai.

     
  21. May 26, 2016 at 12:39
     

    Welcome to Katmai. Looking forward to seeing you on the Brooks Falls cams. What a great experience for you..

     
 
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Last updated: June 2, 2016

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