I attended two lifelong learning lectures last Friday at UAS that gave me more of a chance to learn about the natural history of the area. It also gave me a chance to go to the campus but I didn't have time to visit with anyone. Car trouble, wouldn't you know.
The first session was hyped at using google earth to fly around SouthEast Alaska which we did a little of but it really was more about the environment and geology. Led by a retired high school teacher, the presenter was energetic and had great examples. I'm sure the kids at his school miss him. He was excited about his topic and very entertaining. I'd love to find out if he gives geology tours during the summer - that would be a blast. He demonstrated some of the ways that he uses google earth and some of the ways his student's used it for science fair projects. What a great tool. Here are a lot of layers and add-ons available that people have created to really take advantage of its features.
The second session was on shipwrecks of SE Alaska - namely the two most famous: Princess Sophia (1918) and the Princess Katherine (1952) and the presenter not only a gave a good background on the history of the incidents but she is also an underwater diver and photographer. She had some great slides of fish, creatures, and the actual wrecks seen from underwater. I asked if she had any on a website or in flickr and she said not yet but she's working on it. Since this was advertised as Lifelong Learning there were several people in the room who grew up in Juneau and remembered when the Princess Katherine wrecked on Lena Point very close to town. Apparently the first mate on the bridge forgot to tell the guy at the wheel to adjust a correction the mate had made earlier and ran aground. Due to the weather and the tides they couldn't get off and the ship sunk. Everyone was able to walk off so that was good. Apparently until a few years ago the wreck was in really good condition with a lot of the structure, furnishings, stained glass, etc. still in tact. I'm not sure of the legalities but the presenter referred to it being recently pillaged. (at least it wasn't burned and pillaged–that would be really bad–arrgh).
I recently finished reading a book about the Princess Sophia, Sinking of the Princess Sophia, Taking the North Down with Her - what a tremendous tragedy. Described as the worst wreck in the Pacific Northwest – all 285 passengers/crew perished – its place in history being trumped by the ending of WWI. Waiting for better weather to try to evaluate its passengers, after being stranded on the reef for about 14 hours the ship sank. Watch out for Vanderbilt Reef!