Octagonal Bank of New Zealand banker's desk carved from Australian red cedar, Dunedin, circa 1883.

Octagonal Bank of New Zealand banker's desk carved from Australian red cedar, Dunedin, circa 1883.
Octagonal Bank of New Zealand banker's desk carved from Australian red cedar, Dunedin, circa 1883.

Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Octopi and the Alaska SeaLife Center, Seward, Alaska - Wednesday, August 17, 2022

We arrived in Seward, Alaska on Tuesday, August 16. We only made three stops on our drive from Homer to Seward: (1) A stop at Three Bears gas station for $4.99/gallon of diesel fuel, (2) The Moose is Loose Bakery in Soldotna to get our bakery fix. Bob and I both had Bavarian Cream doughnuts mine was filled with vanilla cream and Bob's was filled with raspberry filling, and (3) a scenic pullout to have lunch and let the cat eat, drink and use the litter box. 

It was a dark, cold, and stormy day and we had the "pleasure" of setting up our RVs in the rain. The mountains were so socked in with clouds we couldn't see them. For the rest of the day, we didn't do anything except sit inside.

On Wednesday, it was raining and cloudy again. This time, we had an indoor activity planned. Our group headed into the downtown waterfront of Seward to visit the Alaska SeaLife Center and do a "behind the scenes" tour about the Giant Pacific Octopus.

Our group heard about what we 
would be doing today.

The entrance sign.

After assembling in the entry of the center, our group was taken into a private classroom. After our introduction to octopi, we had in-and-out privileges to the facility for the rest of the day. 

In our private lesson, two aquariums in the room each held a single female octopus; each was estimated to be about three years old. We watched as the octopi moved about their tanks, exploring the confines with their tentacles. They changed color just a bit as we were there. The lids were held down on each tank with a number of bean bags. That was to keep the octopi from escaping.

Our two presenters knew their subject well. They educated us on the anatomy of octopi, their reproductive system, their size, their range, and how many survive in the wild. A Giant Pacific Octopus is the longest-lived of the different octopi species. They live 3-5 years. Some octopi live only six months. 

Anatomy of an octopus.

The octopi have three hearts, small eyes that only see black and white, a small brain, skull, a poison gland, webbing between their tentacles to help trap prey, stomach, ink sac, cecum, and more.

Octopi have a "beak" like a bird. It helps them break down crustaceans like crab, mussels, clams, etc. The octopus can inject poison into their prey to stun them. The poison can cause a human to have a reaction for a few days, but it won't kill us.

The video below shows an octopus getting lively because it's about to be fed. This octopus's name is Nukkua.

Surprising information about octopi is how they breed and how many survive. The male octopus has a special groove in one arm that is used to inject a spermatophore (a clear, jelly-like, sperm-filled packet) into one of the female's intake ports. After mating, the female finds a suitable cave with a small opening. She will then lay up to 80,000 rice-sized eggs on the ceiling of the cave. She guards and aerates her eggs from four months to one year. The longer she takes care of her eggs, the more will survive. She never leaves them unattended, not even to eat. After breeding, both sexes die. When asked by someone in our group how many octopi survive to adulthood from an egg count of 50,000-80,000, the answer was two. Think about that the next time you eat calamari or octopus!

After our lesson about the Giant Pacific Octopus, we were free to explore the rest of the SeaLife Center. While Bob was taking a business call, I read the exhibits about tagging sea life. There are different sizes and types of tracking tags that can be used depending on the size of the animal being tracked. They can measure the temperature, depth, distance traveled, and light levels.

I also went to the touch tanks and was able to touch shrimp, sea stars, Plumose anemone, California sea cucumbers, and red sea urchins. The sea urchins were pretty cool. If you put your finger in between two spines, the sea urchin would "hug" your finger by wrapping more spines around it.

Plumose anemone.

Leather sea star and Sunflower
sea star.

California sea cucumber.

Shrimp and anemone.

Bob caught up with me at the touch tank and he was able to feel the Plumose anemone, red sea urchins, and some sea stars. When we walked over to the top of one of the larger tanks, a huge Stellar sea lion was sitting on top of a perch. Before I could snap a photo, it had plunged into the tank. 

The different types of salmon.

Identification of the salmon above.

We walked outside onto a deck that overlooked Resurrection Bay to search the water for sea otters. None were about at that moment. Inside, we headed downstairs for the big underwater exhibits. Here's where we found fish like we've never seen before.

Decorated warbonnet and
decorator crabs.

Humpy shrimp.

Alaska ronquil.

Rock greenling.

Crescent gunnel.

Sea pens.

Wolf eel.

There is so much diversity on our planet and a lot of it is in our oceans, which we are only beginning to explore in depth. Exhibits downstairs included one with the six-year-old Giant Pacific Octopus.

Giant Pacific Octopus.

The Life of a Giant Pacific Octopus.

Free-swimming baby octopuses
are called paralarvae.

There was also a display about jellyfish.

A group of jellyfish is called a smack.

Jellyfish tank.

I was fascinated by the displays of glacial ice, how long different animals can hold their breath underwater, and all the types of seals.

Sea ice.


How long can animals hold their
breath underwater?

Types of seals.

The next photo shows how the depth of Resurrection Bay, Alaska compares in depth to other bodies of water in the world.

There were many more exhibits with fish, an exhibit exclusively about skates, and local artwork. [NOTE: Since a couple of people caught skates on our fishing expedition on August 18, I thought I'd include information about them.]

Skates look a lot like sting rays.

When we were finished looking at exhibits, we went to the gift shop and found Joe and Joan and Lynn and Bob. All of us went to lunch at Zudy's Cafe in the old train station. It is conveniently located in the parking lot of the SeaLife Center. The place was busy, but the food was excellent and was delivered to our table soon after we ordered. Good food, good service, reasonable prices, close by...what more could you want?

Zudy's Cafe in the old railroad depot.

After lunch, we dispersed to go look at different things. Bob and I wanted to walk to Lowe Falls, go see murals and sculptures, and explore downtown Seward. It was raining hard and cold. This was not the best day for wandering around.

See the photo below for information on 
this mural.
Information about the above mural.

"Trail Blazers" - Iditarod Trail 
Centennial. Mile 0.

Hoben Park.

Sculpture in front of Alaska
SeaLife Center.

Mural on a back wall of the SeaLife

Two bald eagles in the rain
looking very bedraggled!

We walked a couple of blocks to 
Lowe Falls.

Bob at Lowe Falls.

Just down the road from Lowe Falls is another waterfall. The road says it is not recommended for pedestrians or bicyclists. So I stopped and took a photo from where I stood.

Unnamed falls.

We walked back downtown in the pouring rain, cold and miserable. Our mission was to walk around to see murals and anything else of interest.

A couple of cute storefronts.

We walked along Fourth Avenue
Business District.

"Wildflower Garden," by Master Artist
Gail Niebrugge.

The history of the 
Van Gilder Hotel.

"William H. Seward,"
by Dennis Lee Treadwell

Coffee House and Art Gallery.

Seward Fire Department.

"Raven the Creator," by Vena.

"Raven Releases the Sun,
Moon, and Stars."

"Fog Woman," Master Artist:
Jennifer Headtke.

Hotel Seward.

"Snapshots of Our Past." Info
about this mural in the photo below.

Info for the 
photo above.

"Furry Footprints."

The rain just kept on 
pouring. It was getting old.

Downtown Seward - Fourth Ave
Business District.

At this point, we were so cold we just wanted to go back to the 5th wheel. We were relaxing, drying out, and having dinner. Then a text came in from our caravan leader, Cindy, who said the clouds were clearing out, and if we wanted to see the mountains this would be a good time to do it.

So, we bundled up again and went to downtown Seward to do the waterfront bike path. When we got there, we could see the mountains, but the wind was howling! Even though we had put on our warm clothes and coats, the wind was hitting us right in the face. We walked 1-3/4 mile roundtrip and we didn't finish the waterfront trail because it was just too cold.

We did have clearer skies and 
sweeping views of Resurrection Bay.

The Kenai Mountains across 
the bay from Seward.

The Kenai Mountains.

In the following photo, you can see the beautiful blue bay water across the bay by the mountains. The water going into the bay from the Resurrection River has fine particles of glacial rock (called "glacial flour") making the water very gray.

In this photo, notice the blue color of
the water toward the mountain and the
gray color near the end of the bay.

Resurrection Bay.

Bundled-up Bob on the bike path.

The Edge of the Frontier.

Old Order, New Territory.

Mt. Alice and the Godwin Glacier in
the Kenai Mountains on the 
Resurrection Peninsula.

Yes, it's cold and windy, but the
rain stopped.

Godwin Glacier.

We didn't finish walking the bike path because we were both cold and ready to go inside and warm up. When we returned to the RV park, we took one last detour and walked to Stoney Creek. It flows past the campground.

Stoney Creek.

Stoney Creek and mountains.

Bob at Stoney Creek.

Stoney Creek.
Stoney Creek RV Park.

Our site is at Stoney Creek RV park.

That was it. We called it a night. It was a great day, but too cold and rainy for our liking. We're waiting to see the sun!

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