Friday, 25 May 2012

Lake monster not the only mystery in Alaska's Lake Iliamna

Add this question to the many mysteries of Iliamna Lake: Where the heck do its unique, freshwater harbor seals go when the lake and rivers freeze shut?
Dave Withrow, a federal research biologist who has flown numerous aerial surveys to count them, has spotted close to 300 of the seals in late summer.
In deep winter when there are no openings in the ice, he's counted as many as 73. During other such times, he's found none. Locals from nearby villages say the seals live there year-round, and based on what he's seen, he believes them.
Which begs the question: "How can 280 seals just disappear?"
Maybe the seals have a hidden cave where they winter, he once joked with colleagues. Then an elder told him just such an underground cave existed, providing freshwater access for the seals year-round, a legend that gets a mention in a recent article by a state Fish and Game biologist.  
"We were just totally joking, but to hear an elder say that was like, 'Really? I don't believe it,'" Withrow said.
Welcome to Alaska's deepest and most massive lake, some 200 miles southwest of Anchorage across Cook Inlet. 

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