Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Tongass - Temperate Rain Forest in Alaska

Still docked in Ketchikan, and after the city tour we spent the afternoon in the temperate rain forest area of the  Tongass National Forest.

Tongass is the largest national forest in the US and Earth’s largest remaining temperate rain forest.

 Western red cedar, Sitka spruce and western hemlock are the main tree species growing here.
Everything is super-sized, the huge leaves belong to the Skunk Cabbage, food source for the bears…

… and this native slug, called banana slug,  is huge as well. The only indigenous slug to Alaska grows to a length of 25 cm ( 9.8 inches)

 We were told it is a ‘young’ forest, with just a thin layer of soil. Bedrock is visible everywhere overgrown with mosses and beautiful lichen, the trees are shallow rooted and in time strong storms will topple them. The fallen trees are called nursery trees, they turn into a food source for shrubs and new trees.

Our Tour guide pointed out a wolf den

It is cool and wet,  in Ketchikan the average precipitation is 320 cm (162 inches)s a year, second only to Hawaii and the temperature range for the year is -1 C  to 27 C  (30 to 80 F).

All five species of Pacific salmon (chum or dog, sockeye or red, king or chinook, silver or coho, pink) thrive and spawn in the streams and waters of the Tongass.
This pool is a spawning site, we did see tiny salmon in the water.

One last look

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