Episode Three: WildSide Alaska: Prince William Sound

The incomparable Prince William Sound is famous for its pristine inlets, bays and islands, and infamous for the Exon Valdez disaster still affecting the biosystems of the shorelines. Though sport fishing is a healthy part of the economy, commercial fishing is dominant in Cordova–a remote picturesque village complete with classic typical Alaskan characters.

Nick visits Prince William Sound Science Center. The Director explains research being done to save the natural fisheries. A local commercial fisherman/researcher details the delicate balance of preserving the environment in order to ensure a future for the extensive fishing fleet that shares Cordova’s harbor. On a research boat studying the food supply of herring populations Nick gets a crash course in plankton and its importance to the Sound’s pyramid of life.

Longtime friends and Outfitters, Tom, Katie, and Dan provide unique accommodations and transportation. In a 1964 vintage Beaver float plane, Tom delivers us to a remote floating cabin where Nick notes that a bear would have to “swim for its dinner”.

Nick and John catch Salmon and Halibut as they mingle with seals and sea otters, and contemplate plankton. As Alaska warms, and it has profoundly, what will be the effect of glacial melting both here in Prince William Sound and on the rest of the planet?

Investigating a curious assembly of stuff across the bay we discover a crabby oyster farming gentleman who wants to be left alone. Relenting to Nick’s questions we learn more about this fascinating ecosystem. A failed engine forces the exasperated but accommodating “hermit” into embarrassing Nick and crew with a tow home.