Monthly Archives: March 2008

Downtown Juneau at Night


My idea was to write a cheerful story about the Governor’s Mansion since I live only a few minutes from it and often pass it on the way to downtown. How it turned into a post of gloomy night-time shots of desolate downtown and the governor’s mansion, I don’t know. Perhaps, I shouldn’t have looked at my credit card statement before sitting down to pick the photos for this post. But here it goes anyway, with photos completely out of context.

When Frank Murkowski, our previous governor, occupied the mansion, it looked and felt dead. I could hardly see any sign of life. I suppose the mansion was reflective of its inhabitant. Now that Sarah Palin moved in, a younger governor with teenage children, the place came to life. A trampoline magically appeared in the backyard. Two swings were made for her kids, by suspending fishing buoys from a tree. I even see her once in a while playing with her kids in the backyard. A truly unique feature of my favorite city and the state. It’s also refreshing to meet our governor jogging on trails, by herself, without bodyguards. Yes, Juneau is not big (and we like to keep it that way), but the state still is.


The photo of the governor’s mansion was modified in Photoshop. It actually was quite cheerful when I started playing with it, with bright Christmas decorations, and a mother and a kid standing in front of the mansion, reading a placard. But by the time I was done massing with it, it became almost Hitchcockien. Now, the photo of downtown Juneau, with the background lights of houses on the Blueberry hill on Douglas Island, was not modified at all.

The Aleutian Halibut Fishery


With the halibut and black cod (sablefish) season just opening in Alaska, I decided to post a few photos from my photo archive of the halibut fishery from Dutch Harbor, Alaska from 2005. Halibut can get very large. They are one of the largest bone fishes, not that rarely reaching over 300 pounds. At about 3 to 5 dollars a pound paid to fishermen, such a fish could easily fetch over a thousand dollars. They are commercially fished with a longline – a line stretching up to several miles with baited hooks every foot or so. A buoy is tied to one end of the line, and when the line is set, it floats on the water surface, indicating where the line starts. After soaking for one to several days, the line is retrieved. Once caught, halibut are usually bled right away by having their gills removed. They are put in a fish hold below the main deck and covered with ice, which keeps them fresh for up to several days.


Once delivered, large halibut are offloaded individually by tying a line over their tail peduncle and lifted with a crane. Smaller ones are loaded in brailers (mesh sasks) and brought up from the fish hold in bunches, also with a crane. Several options are available for processing them. They could be packed in large shipping boxes with fresh ice and shipped to markets in the Lower 48, often to Seattle. They are also commonly cleaned, headed and gutted and then sent to fish markets.