21 July, 1998

Myrtle Brijbasi

TEA/Alaska - 98

Journal Entry 12 - July 21, 1998

Alaska SeaLife Center, Ak

Noa is very excited about today. Why? It is her rotation to work in the outdoor lab and feed the otters. But that's not the main reason. It's draining and scrubbing the pools day, and best of all Noa gets to wear and model her beloved, fashionable rain gear ALL DAY LONG. WHAT A THRILL! As usual, the daily routine was carried out where Noa, Olav and Susanne cleaned the outdoor lab, counted fecal pellets, emptied, clean and refilled their totes with water, and changed and laundered blankets. They also fed the otters their morning supply of fish which the otters devoured without hesitation. Elisa and I observed the otters and recorded information. Following that, Olav drained the pools. The otters being aware of out-of-the normal-routine stayed in their dens most of the time, coming out occasionally to excrete, or drink water.

Following the draining of the pools, Susanne and Olav took turns using a power hose to scrub the algae from the walls of the pools. Later Elisa and I joined them in the outdoor lab, stepped into the large pool (now void of water) and started scrubbing the walls and floor. We took a lunch break and upon our return we scrubbed the individual pools in the kennels. We did a thorough job and among the five of us we were done in about 4 hours. The pools are drained and cleaned every 10 days. Prior to draining and cleaning, a sample of the water from each of the pools is collected and tested for quality control purposes. In addition, the test is repeated the day after cleaning and replenishing of water in the pools for any evidence of unfriendly, unwanted, and uninvited guests -microorganisms. It was a remarkable difference in the clarity of the water after the pools were cleaned. It was an excellent example of how much algal growth occurs in a relatively short time in a nutrient rich environment.

All of the outdoor pools at the Sea Life Center receive a constant flow of water from Resurrection Bay at a rate of five thousand gallons per minute. The flow system of the water intake which is achieved via siphon systems is rather interesting, and technologically sophisticated. This whole mechanism is described as a master piece of engineering. The functioning of the electronic faucets and the heating-cooling systems are all linked to the flow of water from the bay into the building. Furthermore, the system efficiently serves the purposes of research as well as provides adequate levels of water for exhibits. For additional information about the construction of the SeaLife Center, visit its web site at http://www.alaskasealife.org/

Since I finished cleaning my small pool first, Dr. Ben-David gave me the opportunity to assist another research scientist - ornithologist, Dr. George Divoky. He was rehabilitating pigeon guillemot chicks of different ages. I helped with the recording of the data as he fed them with different fish of specific weights in relation to the bird's body size. The fish he used were herring, pollock, and small fry (salmon). The fish were also rehydrated before feeding them to the birds (injected with water via anus). It was an interesting experience to watch these chicks consume whole fish - 4-6 inches long, in just a few seconds. It was like suction-cup response..... reptilian almost. The stomachs of these chicks are described as large expanding bags.

I later rejoined the other members of my team, who by then had completed the work in the outdoor labs. The remaining time for the day was spent observing the otters, and to watch them swim gracefully in the clean, clear, pools. See you tomorrow and I am sure I will have some more exciting and interesting information to share with you about our research experiences at the SeaLife Center.

Writing journals on my computer in our room. Note that you can see the SeaLife Center storage facilities and outdoor animal quarters through the window.

The treeline and alpine tundra ecotones are easily visible on Mt. Marthon, as seen from the 'observation deck' at the SeaLife Center.

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