Black-legged Kittiwake

No Matter the Weather

A little rain is a big part of life in the temperate rainforest of Alaska. There is a saying here that goes, “If you don’t learn to play in the rain you don’t play much at all.” Rain in Southeast Alaska sustains the forest and the animals – both on shore and in the water.

When rain falls from the sky it washes nutrients from the forest to the streams and rivers, and eventually the ocean. For many creatures of the Inside Passage there is tasty stuff in such runoff, including phosphorus, nitrogen, and life sustaining organic material. The nutrients washed out of the streams and rivers are consumed and absorbed by mussels, clams, and other filter feeders. In turn, this directly benefits the larger animals that consume them.

What do you call a bear standing in the rain? A drizzly bear! Bears and other furry mammals are prepared when it comes to precipitation. Those furry pelts play the parts of raincoat, insulator, and pillow. In addition, most forest animals have wicking hairs that move water away from their skin, establishing a buffer of air (like a down coat). As humans, we don’t enjoy such a luxury…so grab your raincoat and let’s go exploring!

By Simon Hook

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