Monday, July 26, 2010

I'm Hoooome!!!

I got home last night at 6:45pm. Yesterday was beautiful, and the plane landed at about 3:15. I'm not sure what time I got on the plane, but the plane got in early, so I had to wait a while until my family got there. I'm so glad to be back home, but I will still miss everyone I met in St. Paul. I had so much fun, and I just want to thank everyone that helped me to have such a great experience. Especially Mrs. Kushin, because she is the one that really helped my make is possible. I hope that I can go back sometime.

At the airport, my family gave me my new cell phone. YAY!!! It has a touch screen, and a keyboard, and it's amazing. I love it. I'm glad that I have my phone now, but I didn't miss it at all when I was in St. Paul. That really surprised me.

I kind of don't know where I'm going with this blog. I just wanted to start writing.

I'm down to shorts and a t-shirt. And it's raining. Haven't seen much sunshine or rain all summer. Just fog.

Well I guess I'm out of things to say for now.
More later.
Peace out.

Saturday, July 24, 2010


It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. I honestly had quite a bit of fun. Today’s seal harvest was at Zaponi Reef. Yesterday I went and got my permit (because anyone who isn’t part of the Tribe needs a permit) so I could go and be Terry’s “Pathology Tech”. Chelsea gave me that name. I really like it. It makes me feel special. Basically what I was doing was following Terry around with about 10 tubes between my thumb and forefinger, lids for the tubes in my other hand, pockets full of empty tubes, and a bucket under my arm. We took two tubes of blood from each seal. I had to have un-lidded tubes in my hand for Terry to quickly grab, lid the tubes as he handed them to me, put the bigger of the two tubes in the bucket under my arm, and continuously shake the other two. All while holding all the stuff that I had, keeping up with Terry, and keeping an eye on the live seal. It got pretty intense there for a while.

The seals were brought up off the beach and onto the tundra. They were kept in a big herd by people standing around the outer edges. As everyone was ready for seals, a few (7-9) were brought forward from the herd. Everyone only wanted the small males, and I think it’s illegal to kill females, so any females that may have gotten in there had to be pointed out. The seals were stunned by a blow to the head by someone with a club, and then dragged over and stabbed in the heart. Terry and I were trying to be right there as soon as they were stabbed in order to collect the blood before they bled out of clotted too badly to get any good samples. After that, the seals were cut up and skinned and put into bags and what not.

I was trying to stay relatively clean, in order to keep the blood tubes clean and sterile, but by the end it wasn’t an option to be clean. My rain gear and gloves were all covered in blood. I also got to run some guts. That just meant waiting until a seal was entirely cut up, asking if they were done with their gut pile and heads, and then hauling it all over to Bobette and Chelsea who were taking tissue samples and nasal swabs. I only wanted to do that so I could write “gut-runner” on my resume. So now I have the titles of Gut-runner, Pathology Tech, Blood-shaker, and Tissue-taker.

Yesterday was great. Except that the plane was canceled. Hopefully I will make it out today. Hopefully the plane the plane will make it in today. But the weather outside doesn’t look too promising….. Let’s just hope that the fog lifts by the time the plane gets here.

Thursday, July 22, 2010


Shoveling get kind of old after a while. Yesterday, we only worked for the morning. We headed back at 11:30, because we were doing the GPS camp for 8+ year olds in the afternoon. The YCC kids and Lisa left int eh car, and Ingird and I were going to drive our Honda's back. But mine wouldn't start. The battery had died again. So after weighing our options for a little bit, we decided to just tow my Honda back. We were late back, so I was just late to camp so I had some time to go home and get something to eat and take a shower and everything. Wow Karen. Way to write a run-on sentence.

5 kids showed up to camp, and we picked up one more kid when were all outside looking for the GPS coordinates. They found all of the stuff pretty easily, and I'm pretty sure they all had a good time.
More Later.
Peace out.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Can't think of a good title....

This is actually yesterday's blog. It didn't get posted...

After all that work, no one showed up. The YCC people and I had set up a GPS route that told a story about being a bird biologist. It included finding waypoints, and at each waypoint there was something that a bird biologist would use (such as transportation, tools, birds bands) and they also had to find and reunite a stuffed mother puffin and her chick. After they found all the stuff, there were going to do a fake bird banding with the mother and weigh the chick. We all met at the civic center at 8:30 and we planned all morning. The “camp”, I guess, was scheduled to start at 13:00, so after lunch we all met back at the civic center. By 14:00, we all kind of got bored with just standing around and waiting for someone to show up. The YCC kids went to work on their podcast and climate change stuff, and I went home and started working on a contact list for everyone that I have been working with on the island. I don’t think I have talked about YCC much yet. YCC stands for Youth Conservation Corps. The kids in YCC are high schoolers ages 15-18. They work on maintaining trail, helping out in visitor centers, along with other things. There are two youth in YCC form St. Paul (Cara and Catelynn), and two from Homer (Emily and Colton). Emily and Colton came over on the Tiglax after spending 6 days sailing the Aleutians and traveling from various camps to pick up/drop off scientists and supplies. Next year, I want to be able to do what Emily and Colton did. It would be so much fun and such a great experience to be able to spend a week on the Tiglax. There are some other things that I would have to do, such as finding a place to stay for the summer in Homer, but I would also really like to come back to St. Paul. That would also be amazing.

The plane finally came today, and Tonia, June, Henry, and Ashley all left for Arizona at 19:20. Saying goodbye to someone here is a lot different that saying goodbye to someone in Anchorage, or anywhere else for that matter. After not even having to go through security (everyone who’s going on to somewhere besides Anchorage has to go through security in Anchorage) John and I walked right out to the tarmac with Tonia, June, and the kids, and then we drove down the road and parked beside the runway to wave as the plane took off. Now I’m staying at Phil and Aqualina’s house until I leave on Friday. On Friday I’m also going to the harvest. Juan can’t legally let me go with him, but Terry said that I could help him and Bobette out. I’m going to be a gut-runner or a blood-shaker or something. That means that I get to play in blood and guts all morning. That should be fun. ….  Tomorrow hole more shoveling of gravel, and another try at camp with an older age group. We’ll see how that one turns out! Off to bed.
More later.
Peace out.

Monday, July 19, 2010


I'm not as sore as I thought I'd be. Right before we were about to head back, I started getting a little tired, but 5 hours of shoveling gravel tends to do that to a person. Today I was helping the YCC people with some trail maintenance on the High Bluffs trail. We were filling in the really bad, rutted areas, and anywhere that there was standing water. We started out with one trailer on the back of and Honda, but with only one Honda, we spent a lot of time just standing around and waiting for more gravel. So we got another Honda and trailer, so we were able to work a little bit faster. We split up into two groups of three, with two people driving the Honda's. One group was at the big pile of gravel loading up the trailers, and the second group was actually filling in the trail. I started in the second, and after almost 3 hours we traded out. We only filled trailers for an hour, and then we switched again until we were done for the day. I think that my group did the most work. We are the ones that got stuck with the 4 total hours of rut filling, and we did a better job at it. See how modest I am?? My head is killing me now, so I'm going to bed.
More later.
Peace out.

One more week....

So after a long wait and big discussion, I'm going home on either Thursday or Friday. I was at a lack of housing, so there was a chance that I would have been going home tomorrow. However, I now have a place to stay for a couple more days, so I will have a chance to get some more experience in.

Today I went out to do Tag Resights at Polovina at 17:00, and at about 19:00 it started to rain. Of course we had all left our rain gear in the truck, and we only had a little bit left to do, so we just sat through it and got a little wet. By 19:30, we just decided that we were done. Luckily we had finished the resights.

Tomorrow I think I'm starting with YCC (Youth Conservation Corps) to do trail maintenance, GPS, and what not. I'm really just trying to get known with the YCC people, because if I work at it, and play my cards right, I might be able to get on the Tiglax (tek-la) Research Vessel next year (Tiglax means eagle in Aleut, not that that's important to this blog in any way). But anyways, two YCC students got to spend some some time n the Tiglax, sailing the Aleutians and helping out the scientist on the boat and things like that. That would be such an amazing experience if I got the chance.
More later.
Peace out.
(There Dad. I blogged. Haha)

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


Yesterday at Polavina Cliffs, Chelsea and I were waiting for a seal to move her flipper and a seal that had been trouble earlier started to growl. We turned around to grab the bull poles, and sitting just a few meters away from us was a giant bull. Non-territorial, but still aggressive and scary. His new name is Creeper, because of the way he just creeped up on us. Luckily we were done at that blind, so we could just sneak away and head to the next spot. At the 3rd spot, there was a seal sitting right under the blind and very close to the cliff edge. We couldn't try to scare him away, because he might have gone over the cliff and crushed some females. We weren't very concerned about the bull, because they are mean and nasty (We all think that they are just born pissed off), but we didn't want any of the females or their pups to get injured. It only took us 3 1/2 hours to do resights yesterday, and hopefully tonight will go pretty fast as well.

This morning, I went out with Terry, Bobbet, and Juan to find dead pups and placentas. At the first catwalk, we found 4 placentas and one pup. At the second catwalk, Terry got at dead pup and brought it up. Then he went back for a placenta. I wanted to see if I could sex the pup by myself, so I picked it up by the left flipper to look at it. As I picked it up, the flipper twitched and it yawned. I freaked out and put him back down and curled it up, the yelled for Terry. Apparently, Terry had just forgotten to tell me that he was still alive. I thought Terry was a little rough on him while carrying him back, but I guess that we were waiting for him to die, but still. We killed him back at the lab by stabbing his heart, and then did the necropsy. He starved. We also got 6 placentas from that catwalk.

At 5 today, I'm going to do tag resights with Chelsea and Mike, so i might go take a nap now. I fell asleep on the couch about 10 minutes after I got home yesterday, and no one woke me up, so I just slept the whole night on the couch, and didn't sleep very well. Maybe a nap would be good.
More later.
Peace out.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Blood and Eyeball Juice

Me: "What special gear do I need to bring today?"
Chelsea: "Stuff you can get bloody in."
Me: "Wonderful."

Chelsea picked my up at 8:30ish, and we and 3 other people went to the Paula Vina cliffs to do tag resites. It's a lot better than trying to see the tags on birds, because instead of waiting an hour and a half for a bird to stand up, we only have to wait maybe 4 minutes for the seals to move into view. Some of the females have tags on their flippers, and we have to determine the type of tag, the number on the tag, the color of the tag, and things like that. When we got back to staff quarters, I got to cut up some placentas from when the seal pups were born (The placentas were collected from Reef Rookery). After I did that, Chelsea and I had taco's for lunch, and the we butchered part of the reindeer that Juan had shot. I had never butchered a reindeer before, and it's a lot more fun than you might think. At 5:00, Terry, Juan, Bobbet, and I went out to Reef to look for more dead seal pups and placentas. We found one pup and two placentas. Then we took them back to the lab to necropsy the pup and cut up the placentas. The pup died of trauma. He had been sat on and crushed. When we got to him, his mother wasn't around, and the bull was protecting him. We're not sure why, because bulls don't usually care, unless that was the only female in his herrim, because that would be his only pup. I think I'm writing in run-on sentences now. Well I worked 12 hours, and then Juan made chicken fried reindeer for dinner (I cut up that reindeer!!) and it was delicious. Now I think I'm going to go to bed. Goodnight!
More later
Peace out!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Other Side of the Story

Being able to see the Island from multiple perspectives is truly and eye opening, jaw dropping adventure. There's the part of the island that the scientists see. The part where we go out and count Murre eggs, wonder where the eggs disappear to, and monitor the seal populations, and stuff like that. Then there's the locals perspective. What everyone does for fun, going Murre egg collecting (I found where the eggs have been going... I ate them for breakfast yesterday...), and enjoying the recreational part of the island. Today, Sean and I went riding. We went to the golf course at Northeast. It was so pretty. He was showing me a part of the island that I hadn't been to, and it was a lot different than going out riding with the scientist. When I go with the scientist, we stop and take pictures, or look at a seal playing on the beach, or something. But riding with Sean, we stopped to look at how pretty the water was, or for him to tell a story about growing up here. It is just so amazing for me to be able to sit back and watch what goes on here, and to be able to see things from both sides of the story. The scientific, physical, historical side with the scientist, and the funny story, growing up, myths and legends side with the locals. I'm glad that I don't have just one side of things, because I think the way I look at things now would be a lot different if I only knew the facts and figures. Or if I only knew the myths, legends, and stories side if thing. Riding with Sean today, I was just kind of able to stop thinking about things for a while, which allowed me to think about the bigger things, which is why I wrote this post. I had an epiphany, and I just wanted to be able to write it down, and also to tell everyone. St. Paul Island is WAY more than what it seems.
More later.
Peace out.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Fixing Up My Ride..... Again....

I always like being able to work on my Honda, but it's getting kind of old. Every time I turn around, something is wrong with it. Today we put new tires on, and we looked for break fluid, because there is NONE in my Honda, but we couldn't find the right one, so it still doesn't have any. After we put the new tires on, I went to the beach and rode down along the coast. I saw a lot of birds and seals. It was really pretty. When I came to where I couldn't go along the coast any farther, I cut across the tundra and ended up at the airport. I got back onto the road and headed home. I was freezing by the time I got back.

After I had been home for a while, Juan called and said he was on his way to pick me up. Juan, Chelsea, Mike(I think it was Mike) went out to Reef Rookery. I got to go out on the catwalks that sit above the shore. It was so amazing to be that close to those huge, dangerous animals. We also went to Northeast and Big Zaponi Rookeries. We saw a dead pup at Reef, and a seal that had been dead for a while at Big Zaponi. I love the seals. They are so cool to be around. It truly is amazing that you can get so close to such a dangerous animal and still feel totally safe. Those catwalks are serious business. Juan and Chelsea carried there 15 foot bamboo polls, called bull polls, for fighting off the bulls if they get too close. I can't wait to go back out there. I loved today. It was awesome.
More later.
Peace out.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Catchin' da birdies!

Today, I went to Ridgewall with Rachel and Karrith again. We caught 5 or 6 birds I think. Two of them threw up, and we collected the vomit in little jars and poured alcohol in with it to stop the digestion. It was pretty cool to see what the birds had been eating. We also put GPS tags and leg bands on them. The GPS tags are bigger than you would think they would be. They are about an inch (maybe inch and a half) long and half an inch thick. We taped them to the middle tail feathers, and painted their tails orange. We spent about 6 1/2 hours out today. We were supposed to leave at 11:30, but when I got to their house, they were watching the Ghana - Uraguay soccer game. So we waited to leave until noon. At around 9:00, we all went to the 4th of July dance. No one really danced. They all just kind of stood in a circle and bobbed around. Haha. The music was ohkay though. They played Enter Sandman by Metallica, and that was my favorite part of the night. At about 1:00am, John John got out some fireworks, and we watched those for a little bit. Now I think I'm going to go to bed because I'm tired after climbing of those cliffs all day.
More later.
Peace out!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Painting the Birds

Yesterday, I spray painted a bird hot pink. It was so much fun! I went out with Rachel Orben and her partner Karith. We hiked the rocks on the beach at Ridgewall to a place where we could look up and see some Blacked Legged Kittiwakes that had been tagged over the winter. We sat for a little bit and waited for the birds to move so we could see exactly which birds had the tags on their legs. After a bird moved enough for us to see his tag, Rachel and Karith climbed up under the nest and caught the bird on a noose pole (they slid the noose around the birds head, the bird is fine). I had a timer in my hand and as soon as the bird thought it was caught, I started the timer. They had 3 minutes to get the bird off the edge of the cliff and back down to our gear so they could take a stressed blood sample. They took the blood from under the birds left wing. The took 3 different blood samples. One stressed, one for sex, and one for DNA. Then they took feathers from the head, stomach, and pin feathers (feathers that were just growing in). We also picked ticks off of the Kittiwake's head because there were about 10 all in one spot on his head. It was gross. After that, I got to spray paint the tail florescent pink so we would know which bird we had already caught, and I got to be the one who released the Kittiwake. I just kind of threw him into the air and he almost crash landed, but he found a gust of wind and found his way back to his nest. Then we sat and watched the other birds for a little while, but we had to head back before the tide came back in. I had a great time, and I can't wait to go back otu with them!