18 July, 2003
Lots of Fun Critters
Today in Kotzebue
The weather has warmed up for my last day in Kotzebue; it is a beautiful sunny day. The water is calm and it is finally a perfect day for diving. Unfortunately, the water has been so stirred that visibility was very limited but Steve and Max had fun.
What Science Is Happening?
We cataloged and photographed all the different species. They were then bagged. Tissue samples will be sent back to the lab for isotopic analysis. There were things I was familiar with like starfish, crabs and sand dollars, but also raspberry coral that looked like, well, a big raspberry. There was a large sea creature that looked like a giant slimy potato, but it was really a colony of smaller animals.
My job was to catalog the clams, into living and dead. This wouldn’t
have been a problem except, when I found a live one, I had to take the
insides out. Clams tend to resist this procedure. Mollusks (clams,
oysters and scallops) have a foot (it looks like a tongue) and it would
try to “lick” me and close on my finger; this was a bit unnerving. I
decided to video myself doing it, so we have great footage of me
screaming. In the end, I had to put them in hot water for a bit before
Tomorrow, I board a plane for home and my Arctic adventure is over. My
only regret is that I didn’t get to spend more time on the TEK portion
of the project, directly during interviews. The interview process is a
long one of gaining trust and earning community respect. Terry
Reynolds is working on that part of the project. He and his wife,
Melinda moved to Kotzebue over a year ago and will be living there for
another year and a half or longer. It is hard for short-timers, like
myself, to make those connections but I have learned a great deal from
talking with people about the immense scope of Traditional Ecological
Knowledge and the reasons why studying and preserving that wisdom is so
While I am missing my home and family, I’m going to miss Kotzebue too.
This has been a fascinating experience, it has brought science alive
for me and I hope that it has brought a crack of understanding of the
scientific process into your live.
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