After a morning cruise through Frederick Sound, we began our daily adventures in the fishing community of Petersburg. Many of us explored the town by bike, while others explored the unique and unexpected bog ecosystem. Others went to check out the industry that created and keeps Petersburg thriving, the fishing fleet.
As we cruised the harbor by Zodiac, we saw the fleet in action. Purse seiners and gill-netters alike docked alongside us, organizing their catch of pink salmon from the morning. Stellar sea lions and bald eagles scrounged for scraps tossed aside.
The location of Petersburg, founded in 1897, was strategically chosen because of these thriving salmon runs, along with its proximity to the LeConte Glacier, which provided ice to keep the salmon fresh. From then on, the fishing industry has grown, including the Dungeness crab fleet that provided us with fresh delicacies for our evening’s crab feast.
While the modern fishing vessels were thrilling to see in action, there is a long history of fishing in this area by the Tlingit, dating back 2,000 years before Petersburg’s founding. Those of us on the bike ride admired one of the historic Tlingit fishing grounds at Sandy Beach. Taking advantage of the changing tides, the Tlingit would line rocks in a V formation, leaving an opening at the point. When the tide was high, fish would enter, and when the tide fell, they would block the entrance and harvest the fish inside.
As we concluded our afternoon activities, we spotted a pair of orcas traveling through the channel. Orcas belong to the dolphin family and, according to fishermen lore, dolphins are sign of good luck and good weather to come.