Armchair photo tours: Alaska SeaLife Center in Seward

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A red-legged kittiwake in the aviary at the Alaska SeaLife Center in Seward

Photos by Cheryl Landes

Visiting the Alaska SeaLife Center in Seward is a fun educational experience that combines close-up encounters with local marine life and birds, and interactive exhibits describing their habitats, behaviors, and the environmental factors affecting their survival.

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The Alaska SeaLife Center in Seward

The center is the only facility in the state with a public aquarium, marine research and education, and wildlife response. It’s the only permanent mammal rescue and rehabilitation facility in Alaska.

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There are two types of experiences the Alaska SeaLife Center offers. Regular admission provides access to the aquarium and exhibits. Tours and encounters last an hour and focus on a particular species of marine life, such as sea lions, octopuses, or birds.

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A horned puffin in the aviary at the Alaska SeaLife Center in Seward

The last time I was in Seward, I signed up for the puffin tour and encounter. It began with an introduction to the seabirds common in Alaska, followed by an in-depth discussion about the puffins’ characteristics, habitat, population, and threats to survival. Then we toured the seabird research lab, and the guide gave me a bucket with some small fish to feed to the birds.

When we arrived in the aviary, the birds saw me carrying the bucket and flocked around me. I sat on a rock, grabbed one or two of the small fish at a time, and held them out for the birds. A few birds tried to eat all of the fish, so I started making sure some who were shy could have a few treats.

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Cheryl feeds the birds during the puffin tours and encounters experience at the Alaska SeaLife Center in Seward.

Ten minutes later, they’d eaten all of the fish and the tour ended. I returned to the visitor side of the aviary to watch the birds.

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A tufted puffin in the aviary at the Alaska SeaLife Center in Seward

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A kind eider in the aviary at the Alaska SeaLife Center in Seward

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A red-legged kittiwake in the aviary at the Alaska SeaLife Center in Seward

From there, I toured the other exhibits and sea life in the center.

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An interactive exhibit for the kids at the Alaska SeaLife Center in Seward, where they can experience what it’s like to work on a boat.

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Ophelia the Octopus was created by the students at Kodiak High School from the trash they collected during a local beach clean-up. A sign at this display in the Alaska SeaLife Center in Seward encouraged visitors to identify as many personal use items as they could find in Ophelia’s body.

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A steller’s eider’s nest on display at the Alaska SeaLife Center in Seward

Fish and other sea life in the giant aquariums at the Alaska SeaLife Center in Seward

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A close-up of an Alaska skate at the Alaska SeaLife Center in Seward

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This spotted seal loves an audience. He swam to the edge of the tank, turned sharply toward the bottom, circled up, and swam across the tank on his back. He repeated this routine non-stop while I watched for about 15 minutes.

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A view of Resurrection Bay from the second floor of the Alaska SeaLife Center in Seward

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Another view of Resurrection Bay from the second floor of the Alaska SeaLife Center in Seward

After I left the Alaska SeaLife Center, I found two sculptures nearby. One is a memorial to Jujiro Wada, and the other commemorates the 100th anniversary of the Iditarod Trail.

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Jujiro Wada, an Alaska pioneer and musher from Japan who made the first trip on the Iditarod Trail with mail carrier and local musher Alfred Lowell in 1909. They were hired by the Seward Commercial Club to prove that the route to the goldfields in Nome was feasible. Wada and Lowell made the trip successfully. In 1978, Congress designated this 512-mile section of the trail from Seward to Nome as the National Historic Iditarod Trail.

Nome was the site of the last major gold rush in Alaska. Gold was discovered there on Christmas Day, 1908.

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The Trail Blazers sculpture commemorating the centennial of the Iditarod Trail in 2008. The sculpture’s location in Seward marks Mile 0 of the Iditarod Trail. 

Then I treated myself to a late lunch at the Gold Rush Bistro, three blocks north of the Alaska SeaLife Center.

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Fish and chips at the Gold Rush Bistro in Seward, Alaska

 

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