Gold rush, sea cucumbers and bears – The spirit of Alaska

Gigantic fjords and over 5,000 small islands: In Alaska's south there's a lot of wilderness and little civilization. The region between the capital Juneau and the Canadian border is also known by locals as the "Last Frontier", the last outpost. Michelle Masden, for example, has come to terms with the harsh conditions here. She is the only seaplane pilot in the region. She earns her living with her 65-year-old Beaver: as an air taxi, transport plane and now and then as a rescuer in last necessity. Michelle flies anything and everything: spare parts and food, doctors, hikers and hunters. For the fishermen of southern Alaska she searches for large shoals of fish and guides the captains to the next good catch. Ray Rusaw was a car mechanic by profession, but in his old age he was gripped by gold fever. With a self-built special raft and a highly creative selection of equipment from the DIY store, he sets off in search of the precious metal that his predecessors overlooked two centuries ago. For four years he has been happily obsessively combing through sandbanks and river courses. For Ray, the search for gold has little to do with luck and much to do with meticulous research. He is certain that he has found the perfect spot. Larry Trani has spent half his life as a teacher, but in his spare time he has always been underwater. As a diver, he now "harvests", in a team with his son, just about everything that the seabed off the coast of southern Alaska has to offer: starfish, crabs, elephant trunk shells and sea cucumbers. So far, only their skin has been marketed; in Asia, it is considered a true miracle cure for all kinds of ailments. The delicious meat, however, is simply thrown away. Larry wants to change this and sell sea cucumber meat to restaurants as a grilled delicacy. Climate change is disrupting the bears' sleep patterns: Instead of hibernating, more and more of these predators are foraging the cities for food. A danger for humans. Some bears have already been shot, but the cubs are often spared. Claire and Chris Turner take care of these orphaned bear cubs. In their station nine extremely hungry bear mouths receive full board. Chris swirls around every day to get enough food together. Expired artichokes from the supermarket, meat leftovers from the butcher. With fresh produce: The young bears learn to hunt with live salmon donated by the neighbouring breeding station. In southern Alaska only three people still speak the language of the Tsimshian natives. The cultural identity and with it the rare dialect of the tribe are threatened. Alfie Price of the killer whale clan does not want to accept this. He has set up a learning group in the capital Juneau to train new speakers. At a demonstration against climate change they also protest impressively in the language of their ancestors. Source

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