4 September, 1999
Saturday, September 4th 1999
Breakfast in long underwear-radio telemetry - Black Brant Geese - Raft Race - Berry Production - BROWN BEAR SITINGS! - Salmon Fishing
Aloha all! To continue catching you up with the events of our trip...
Today I got the morning off to a flying start. While I was still in bed, I heard Leslie Boen (a teacher from Barrow who joined us in Cold Bay with 2 students, Rita Frantz and Dan Brower), knocking on Rita and Dan's doors. I jumped up and opened up the door to talk to her for a minute, and the door shut behind me, locking me out of my room! That wouldn't be too bad, except I was just in my long underwear, and no one was around who could let me back into my room. Leslie tried walking across the street to the restaurant to find someone (the restaurant,bar,and motel are all owned by the airline that flies out there, so the same person, John, manages it all), but there was only 1 cook there and he was very busy. So, I ended up going over and eating my breakfast in my long johns until John woke up and was able to let me back in. After we were all ready, we headed up Baldy Mountain, which is basically a tall hill, where we learned about the radio telemetry studies that are occuring at Izembeck Refuge in Cold Bay. Earlier in the season, researchers had sugically implanted a small transmitter under the skin of a bunch of Pacific Black Brant geese (while the geese were at their breeding grounds for the summer), and were now studying the migration timing of the geese into Izembeck Lagoon (where they visit before moving down the U.S. western coast for the winter). We used big antennaes and earphones which were connected to receivers. The receivers would scan all of the frequencies that the transmitters in the geese could be found at. When we found a transmitter frequency that could be picked up by the antenna, it would sound like a bunch of quiet beeps, every few seconds. The direction that the antenna is pointing when the beeps are heard tells us what direction the goose is at. We only heard 2 transmitters of geese in the area, which was not surprising for the scientists (Mike and Linda, of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service), since they told us that they are only now starting to arrive in the refuge area. I took some video while we were up there and it is pretty funny because Anuhea (the student from Wai'anae who came along) was FREEZING up there on Baldy Mountain, the wind was blowing 35-45 miles per hour.
After that, we had lunch, and headed out to the "RUSSELL CREEK SILVER SALMON DERBY" RAFT RACE. We were told how lucky we were to be visiting at that time of year, so we got to see the salmon derby festivities that were going on. So we were excited to see the start of the salmon derby, and Jerry and Phil, who work for the United States Geological Service (USGS) took us down to the big party. Well, we got there, and the first thing Anu said is "THIS IS IT??!!!") There were, at the most, 10 trucks there. That is a big crowd for Cold Bay! Usually, it is unlikely that you will pass another vehicle anywhere if you are driving around! So, we watched part of the raft race, where people of Cold Bay build rafts out of anything they can think of, and head down the river seeing which will make it to the finish first. There were people in innertubes lashed together, people in old bathtubs wearing shower caps, and people just on plain old doors.
It was pretty funny to watch, but funnier still was seeing the "Walk-a-Thon" that was another event at the salmon derby. We happened to be driving down the road and drove past 4 people who were walking in the opposite direction. The woman who was driving us, Linda, saw that one of the people was her husband, so she pulled over to talk. He was with the teacher from the town, and the teacher said "We are taking part in the walk-a-thon, we are the only 4 people that showed up". And Linda's husband, Jim, said "I didn't even know that I was in the walk-a-thon, I thought I was just taking a walk!" So there were only 4 people for the event, and only 3 actually knew they were parcticipating!
After watching the events, we went back up Baldy Mountain to help Jerry and Phil from USGS work on their study of Berry Production and Consumption. They made 50 meter by 50 meter plots out on the tundra (they picked 70 random spots earlier), and then went around the edges of the plots with a small quadrant (sqare made out of light pipes) and every 5 meters they would set the square down and count how many berries were inside the square. This was a way to estimate how many berries were in the whole area, and later look at how many of the berries were eaten by geese in the area. They made 2 plots of the area, and I am sorry to say we were not much help to them. It was kind of a 2 person job, and after they showed us what they were doing, we sat down with the binoculars and saw 3 big brown bear (a mother with 2 cubs) down in the valley below, walking along. They were easy enough to see clearly, so they were very fun to watch.
Later that night, Rick, the manager of Izembeck Refuge (from USFWS) took us down to Russell Creek so that we could try and catch some salmon. Rita caught 2 fish, and I caught one, but they were all "chums" which apparently are not good for eating compared to silver salmon, or red salmon, which are also found there. So we threw them back in the creek, but they were fun to catch, anyway!
It was a very full day, and we were able to sleep very well If you have any questions, please write to Anu and I! We are looking forward to hearing from some people from home! Talk to you soon! Michele Hauschulz, Teacher Experiencing the Arctic
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