Outdoors
For the next Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center fireside lecture, U.S. Forest Service natural resource specialist Pete Schneider will discuss how he created two live video camera feeds that reveal the “secret lives” of beaver and salmon near the glacier.
The “secret lives” of beavers and sockeye 011817 OUTDOORS 1 Courtesy of the U.S. Forest Service For the Capital City Weekly For the next Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center fireside lecture, U.S. Forest Service natural resource specialist Pete Schneider will discuss how he created two live video camera feeds that reveal the “secret lives” of beaver and salmon near the glacier.

Pete Schneider has worked to set up live cameras underwater to show spawning sockeye and life inside a beaver lodge. He'll discuss their "secret lives" and how his work at the next Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center fireside lecture. Pete Schneider; US Forest Service


A beaver inside its lodge. Pete Schneider; US Forest Service

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Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Story last updated at 1/18/2017 - 1:26 pm

The “secret lives” of beavers and sockeye

For the next Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center fireside lecture, U.S. Forest Service natural resource specialist Pete Schneider will discuss how he created two live video camera feeds that reveal the “secret lives” of beaver and salmon near the glacier. Schneider’s presentation is the third Fireside Lecture of 2017 and will be held in the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center at 6:30 p.m. and again at 8 p.m.

Hidden cameras provide live video during summer via monitors located inside the visitor center and the outdoor pavilion. Video is also posted to the Internet for viewers around the world to spy on wildlife near Steep Creek.

Observing life underwater allows viewers the unique perspective of salmon spawning at the culmination of their long journey. First established in 1996 by Eagle Scout Matt Statsny, the Steep Creek fish cam now provides a virtual window into the Tongass National Forest.

The Steep Creek fish cam went viral in 2013, its first season on YouTube. A live broadcast showing bright red sockeye salmon, Dolly Varden char, and an occasional black bear captivated viewers worldwide. The underwater webcam beamed live video from the visitor center to the Forest Service’s YouTube site. More than 27,000 people collectively watched 10,314 hours of video.

“The feedback from the public was wonderful, positive, and provided us a real opportunity to educate others about Alaska salmon,” said Schneider. “Alaskans often take salmon for granted and forget how many people don’t know much about them. Natural salmon runs are becoming less common in the Lower 48. It’s not surprising folks get excited to know places like this still exist.”

Another live infrared camera is located inside a beaver lodge. Schneider and Forest Service regional fisheries biologist Don Martin first experimented with a beaver cam in 2004 after locating an active den near Steep Creek.

One thing Schneider noticed with both cameras was how interested visitors were once they realized the video was live. This was a defining moment for him.

“People are simply drawn to watch the natural world unfold right before their eyes and it genuinely captures their attention,” Schneider explained.

Free Fireside Lectures occur Friday nights at Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center during January, February and March. A schedule of topics can be found at www.mendenhallglacier.net. Doors open at 6 p.m. The visitor center is open in winter Friday-Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Elevators are closed for reconstruction. Access is via stairs or an outdoor ramp only. Call 907 789-0097 for information.