Salmon
Glaciers, Volcanoes, and the Ecology of Alaskan Bears
The milky water is so heavy with sediment and so cold that, as it enters Otter Lake, it flows in under the clearer, warmer water,
filling the lake from bottom to top.  The only places in Otter Lake where one can see the lake bottom are at the mouths of
Wolverine and Fisher Creeks, where clear water from snowmelt and rain enters Otter Lake.  
Head of South Fork of Big River,
as it flows out of Glacial Milk Lake.  
Glacial
Milk Lake
Mouth of South Fork River
where it enters Otter Lake,
turning the Lake water cloudy.
The South Fork turns east here,
joining with the North Fork,
then flowing into Redoubt Bay
The image below left shows Double glacier from its upper reaches down the foot of its eastern leg at Glacial Milk Lake.  The photo below right
approximates how the terminus of the eastern leg looked before global warming melted off all the ice off the slope just above Glacial Milk Lake.
The water flowing out from under Double Glacier, into the Lake is filled with rock ground by the glacier into powder as finely grained as backing flour, and
almost as white.  Hence the term "glacial flour."  The whitish water it creates is called "glacial milk,"  hence the name Glacial Milk Lake.  This "milk" drains
into the South Fork of Big River, which winds several miles (km) northeast, finally flowing into Otter Lake, as shown above.   
Those are the only spots where bears can see salmon under water -- at least until the salmon turn red with their mating colors.  Where bears can't see
salmon, they can't catch them, until the fish are close to death.  Bears can smell dead salmon through more than 1 yard/meter of water.  Bears walk
around through the glacial milk, feeling the bottom of the lake with their feet until they find a salmon carcass on which to dine.  Or, once a dead salmon
has rotted enough to float, bears find them drifted up against the lake shore.  Or they see sea gulls squabbling over a floating salmon carcass, then swim
over to usurp the carcass.
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Bear Viewing Association
To watch, to wonder, and to conserve
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39200 Alma Ave.    Soldotna, AK  99669
bear viewing Alaska, bear photography, bear safety, bear behavior
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Index of  Bear  Webpages
Bear Viewing Association
To watch, to wonder, and to conserve
gobearviewing@hotmail.com
Ph/Fax (907) 260-9059 (Office)
39200 Alma Ave.    Soldotna, AK  99669
bear viewing Alaska, bear photography, bear safety, bear behavior
Glaciers, Glacial Landscapes, and Their Roles in the Ecology of Alaskan Bears