Follow us on Instagram @pribsbluesmuse, but here is our daily log if you want the full experience!
July 8, Sunday – Camp is officially over (sad face). Today, Missy takes off and Jenny and I continue on with the rest of the summer! We’ll have lots more visiting scientists and volunteers, but June-July and camp are definitely high notes every year! We had a great breakfast of French toast with homemade bread and then took Missy’s luggage to the airport. After one last little tour for her prior to her flight, we dropped her at the airport and headed back to Staff Quarters for dinner. The last couple days weather have stuck out, as winds have been up blowing away much of the fog. Partly cloudy and winds are more similar to what we had last June and July. If the winds can stay down, we should get some good days out on the Lunax in the next few weeks!
July 7, Saturday – We decided to sleep in after such a long and productive week at camp! It was so fun and nearly at its conclusion. This early afternoon, we were having our closing ceremony and tribute to Dr. Michelle Ridgway. Lauren began with a nice dedication of camp and presentation of the two plaques in her honor. Both will be place on island schools as a reminder of her effort and impact on the children. Then, several people spoke in remembrance of her. Just some fun stories and details on how she contributed to the community and the importance she had in peoples’ lives. It was very touching. Unfortunately Mark Ridgway, her brother, was hoping to make it out for the event but was unable to attend. We concluded with snacks, drinks and several videos of her in action; preaching science and understanding of the unique Alaska marine ecosystems.July 6, Friday – Day 4, ECO Science Camp! Back into the classroom for Missy’s Marine Mammal and Necropsy Day. I may not have told you all, but all week Missy has been working hard on presentations and activities for the mammal day. I also may not have told you she was making jello molds all week, testing her recipes and methods to produce the best-looking jello brains and hearts this side of the Bering Sea! Parasites included! What is this for you might say? Well, along with going through the local and regional species and whales and their biologys, Missy wanted to stress the importance of local community based observation through the marine mammal stranding and necropsy network. Lauren, Paul and the ECO office all conduct beach monitoring surveys regularly, and this was a good opportunity to run through these operations with the kids! See what would happen if local folks do find a marine mammal washed up on shore. It was really rainy outside, so Missy took the kids through measuring the morphometrics of the outside of several inflated doll mammals. Several of them were brought to camp on loan from Dr. Heidi Pearson at UAS in Juneau. These were exact replicas of adult Stellar Sea Lions, Harbor Porpoise, and Harbor Seals. After that, we discussed the internal necropsy procedure, ending with several dissections of the jello mold brains and hearts. The kids, using exact methods, sliced open the organs searching for irregularities and paracites; which in this form was represented by mis-coloration of organs (by way of yogurt additions) and large parasites (by way of sliced apple worms and blueberry tumors). Then we all sampled with our stomachs, the tasty treats we just dissected! Additionally, throughout the day, small groups split off and walked down to the TDX dock and boarded the NOAA EBS Survey vessel for tours and live animal touch tanks! Everyone loved sitting in the captain’s chair and picking up the octopus, crabs, and fishes… Sadly, Gordon and Micky also concluded their time on island and flew out that evening back to Juneau. We were thankful they participated in camp, and the kids dedicated a beautiful tote bag to him as a parting present! July 5, Thursday – Day 3, ECO Science Camp! Oh wait, Jenny and I decided to take the very good weather day to head out on the Lunax with Duck, Gordon and Micky! Though it was overcast and foggy most the day, variable winds at 10 knots for a couple days put us at 3 ft seas! Great for getting some dive surveys done. So, early in the morning, Jenny and I loaded up the truck, transported our gear down to the boat, collected our special guests and were off to Otter Island after a short pit stop for fuel. We began on the east side, diving off our SPATT mooring. Surface currents picked up fairly significantly after we jumped in the water, but we managed to get a transect survey in for fish, large invertebrates, and habitat before we called the dive. It was also Jenny’s first survey, so taking it slow and methodical was fine by us! After a surface interval to off-gas our Nitrogen built up in our blood (as with every repeat dive day), we jogged over to an historical site off northwest Otter and set Block 41 for another survey. Underwater conditions were much better this time and a full survey was done. This was the same for our final site, west of Otter High Bluffs. Overall, all three sites were majority flat bedrock with occastional small fishures or channels with big boulders. There was a greater prevalence
of large inverts and encrusting epifauna like featherduster worms, mussels, branched hydroids, Clathromorphum sp. red algae at east and northwest sites. The western side was a little less encrusted, as generally the bathymetry of southwest and exposure to the Bering and storms takes full force on the west side of Otter and St. Paul Islands. It was great to get back in the water and get some surveys done. Sadly, we didn’t have cameras on these surveys as it would have been quite a bit to manage with a first time SNP diver like Jenny. She did great though. We then slowly went around the island, getting Gordon and Micky some good views and photos of the bluffs and thousands of seabirds. We finished with a CTD and attempted zooplankton tow at our consistent side northeast of Otter. Though the winch electronics broke so the sample can only be a presence/absence tow rather than quantifiable sample. It was still a great day spent on the water!.. At ECO camp, Missy, Lauren and Veronica concentrated on Bering Sea Fishes! The NOAA Eastern Bering Sea Bottom Trawl survey ship was in town to conduct a crew exchange and dropped off the fish samples Lauren requested for camp. Many different species of fishes were thawed and they were all identified, dissected, stomach contents examined, and finally fish prints were done with paint on paper and canvas handbags! I heard it was a very successful day! July 4, Wednesday – Happy June July everyone! I began the day with filling all the SCUBA tanks at the firehouse. Several hours in a hot compressor room while the fire trucks were decorated wasn’t too bad, with a good book in hand. The community parade started at noon, and all were on floats, trucks, 4wheelers, or standing in their driveways in anticipation of the passing, honking parade about town. As usual, ECO camp had a truck bed full of kids in red, white and blue with handfuls of candy to pass out. After the parade the community event list was gradually checked off, starting with the toddler trot and munchkin buoy race all the way through the adult’s tug-of-war! Early evening concluded with the town potlock of hotdogs, burgers, reindeer, and snow crab with various side dishes. We took three dishes including halibut spread, BIG green salad, and chicken casserole. Then, the main event, the grease pole with a take home of over $1200 this year. I again tried my hardest, but the grease proved just a slick as a year ago. But, I managed to do equal or a little better than last year! In contrast to last year however the end proved a nail-biter and controversy was abound! Duck managed to nearly scale the 27th overall try up the pole, getting both hands on the top but unable to pull himself up and wave the tiny American flag. Sadly, he slid down and flag tilted nearly horizontal. Fireworks popped, trucks honked, and victory was denied as the flag still stood. The next climber, Jon, victor from last year, easily scaled the pole and grasped the flag. It was intense!.. And, like a regular Cubs fan, there is always next year for me. July 3, Tuesday – Day 2, ECO Science Camp! Underwater day! Today, from 1-5pm, we focused on underwater scientific techniques. Richard Werner, Captain of Lunax and ROV specialist for the Tribe, prepared an ROV demonstration for the kids to take place of the TDX dock. We also got out our dive gear and Lauren, Jenny, and I jumped (literally) into the water off the dock to bring up interesting critters for the kids to see and ID. Before heading the to the dock. We reviewed the importance of underwater exploration and science. We watched a few videos on Michelle’s Greenpeace decents into Zhemchug Canyon, which stressed the importance of the habitats in the deep sea and the potential impacts from bottom trawling. Missy then went into the use of SCUBA as an underwater tool and went through the gear and its use in the field. By 2pm, we were off to the dock for ROVs and diving! The kids were super excited about Duck’s ROV capability and the giant TV monitor to watch the action. As we geared up, the kids talked to both Duck and ourselves getting the final instructions on each operation. The divers jumped into the water with standing ovations, and the ROV was tested several times. Unfortunately, the ROV was having connectivity issues so the divers went below the dock and collected many organisms for the kids to see topside. We surfaced once to hand off critters, then returned to the bottom in search of more and concluded with a AAUS diver checkout for Lauren. We returned topside just in time for the kids to return the creatures to the water and walk back to the classroom. We stayed to pick up some intertidal algae for algae pressings to close out the day! July 2, Monday – Day 1, ECO Science Camp! But first, we finally received clearance for Jenny to complete her UA checkout dive! So, this morning, we headed out to East Landing for a test of underwater skills and field introduction to species identification. After a long surface swim, Jenny did great on her skills and we proceeded back toward shore. We stopped several times to take note of specific algal and animal species. Also, we took a couple yellow Irish Lord samples with the Hawaiian sling in order to start our more robust fish sampling in 2018. To officially begin the day (at 1pm), we gather the kids in the School’s science classroom and talk about Michelle for a few minutes. Many are too young to remember her, but vague memories and a couple camp visitors were present to also convey her impacts on the previous generation of students. Overall, today was ‘crab’ day! I was leading the charge with two main activities after a short review of why I am here studying blue king crab, what are crab, and what their importance is to the ecosystem and our socio-economic systems. Thereafter, we all trekked down to the small boat harbor to collect our glaucothoe collector bags that were hanging off the dock. We organized into small groups with buckets of seawater, collector bags, and sieves. Each group then opened each bag and slowly sorted and washed out the gillnet filling, being sure to dislodge any critters that might be hanging on! Then the wash was sieved through a fine strainer and the filtrate critters were aggregated together in a new bucket with seawater. These were then transported back to the classroom and samples were distributed and analyzed under a microscope for species ID. After a snack break, the kids were gathered back in the classroom and sorted in two groups for the ‘King of the Pribs’ crab game. After a brief explanation, the kids were off pinning paper blue, red, and golden king crabs to the gameboard. As all species were pinned up together, by year, we began to see patterns in the survey catch data they represented. The once abundant blue king crab stock collapsed, red king crab became more abundant, and new golden king crab surveys on the Bering Slope showed a new, possible fisheries resource. The abbreviated game provided a hands on activity and history lesson, really punctuating the kids understanding of king crab resources and resource use around the Pribilofs.
July 1, Sunday – The calm before the metaphorical storm! With ECO Camp looming, we started today with a good breakfast and more touring of the island. We went out to NE Point today and explored the beach and camp house area. Then we mustered back at Staff Quarters and began prep for our pre-camp dinner with Lauren’s family, Veronica, and the rest of us. Micky brought makings for Moroccan Chicken! It was a delicious dinner and we talked about the week to come. There were many things still to do in preparation for camp, but things were generally in line and we all made to-do lists. Generally, we organizers and scientists preparing the camp focus on many topics around a general theme. This year, we are dedicating camp to a very important, recent figure in Pribilof region research, Dr. Michelle Ridgway. Michelle, a wonderful person, scientists, and ocean advocate this winter parished in Juneau from injuries sustained in a vehicle accident. She was an inspiring person in the Pribilofs, spending much of her summer field seasons on St. Paul or St. George conducting marine research and organizing science camps and field outings for the children. She was always inspired by the ocean, being one of the first scientists to descend to the depths of Zhemchug and Pribilof Canyons of the Bering Sea Shelf Break and helping discover a new beaked whale species from a washed up carcasse on St. George Island. CBSFA also provided funding for new commemorating plaques dedicated to Michelle’s impact on the islands children, which will be hung in the St. Paul and St. George schools, respectively… Those not involved in planning, were delighted to start a new 1000 piece puzzle on the coffee table. Kind of a crazy cartoonish version of an urban backyard BBQ that somehow began to entertain us all week in our downtime.June 30, Saturday – With only one obligation today and windy weather, we decided to take the morning and do some site-seeing with our visitors. That’s one great thing about St. Paul, no matter how many times you go out on the island it never gets boring. Too many things to see and its usually different than the last time! We drove slowly out to SW Point, stopping along the way for photos a few times. We were in for a treat at the end, where we found the reindeer herd very close to the road. We were able to creep up slowly by foot for some amazing pictures of the herd. Many are shedding winter hair at this time of year and the calves are getting bigger! Missy and Gordon got some great pictures. After that we walked a little ways out High Bluffs to watch the seabirds for a little while. Upon returning to Staff Quarters we made some lunch and got ready for Gordon’s Community Radio program which Lauren, Veronica, and I have been planning for a couple months. We reserved Council Chambers and Walt got us on the radio for a two hour discussion on fisheries and fisheries issues. With Gordon’s 30+ years modeling fisheries stocks in the Alaska for ADFG and UAF-CFOS, the community turned out and tuned in for an intriguing discussion on halibut, crab, fur seal, management practices, and ecosystem health in the Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska. Lauren and I moderated discussion and received text questions from the audience. Thereafter, we were invited to dinner by Bill Briggs, Trident Processing Plant Manager, where he wanted to meet and talk further with Gordon. By the evening, we were all pretty tired from the full, thought provoking day!
June 29, Friday – After yesterday’s outing, we managed to finish cleaning and restoring gear this morning. We also spent some time cleaning the apartment and getting ready for our guests arrival. Missy Good (UAF Sea Grant MAP agent in Unalaska) and Gordon and Micky Kruse (Gordon – UAF Professor of Fisheries) arrived to island to participate in ECO Science Camp next week! All three are staying with us in Staff Quarters and we a have a full schedule planned. Additionally, Lauren and Veronica flew out to the island to get started with their extended summers’ work with ECO. As a reminded ECO – Ecosystem Conservation Office for the Tribe – runs an annual science camp during the summer for 3-8th grades.June 28, Thursday – As the weather mostly calmed and seas came down to a reasonable 5-6ft, we were able to get out with Duck on the Lunax today! We didn’t plan any dive operations today as we needed to return to the 4 moorings with SPATTs for mid-season collection. Each mooring has 4 SPATT disks bagged and clipped to the mooring line. Replicates of two are deployed at the surface and at the bottom to determine if toxins differ by depth. One mooring is located close to town off East Landing, and the other three at Otter Island, Elephants Trunk, and High Bluffs, respectively. This complete coverage across our survey area will give us a better picture of the HABs potential around St. Paul. Thus, today we chose to collect and replace all SPATTs at each sampling mooring. After East Landing, we received had a short break to help out the halibut tender by delivering an electrical generator. Then we proceeded to Otter Island to collect/deploy the SPATTs, get water samples for filtration and species ID, and conduct a CTD and zooplankton net deployment. The zooplankton abundances were fairly low, but the phytoplankton bloom has definitely occurred. The afternoon was spent mostly in transit, to Elephants Trunk and High Bluffs to complete HABs sampling. Additionally, these shallow moorings came up with tangled glaucothoe collector bags. This is pretty normal for these shallow, high energy sites, so we spent additional time repairing the bags before redeployment. We also had to stay up late filtering 8 liters of water onto our GFF filters for HABs. We took turns with the hand pump! Overall, it was a good day on the water and back in the lab, the seas were still a little rough but we managed to get everything planned finished!
June 25, Monday through June 27, Wednesday – After getting in Sunday, seas and winds picked up a bit. Not for more than a few days early this week though! Luckily, we had some remaining field preparation to do in terms of gear and essential training. On Monday, we spent part of the morning retrieving our SPATTs in the small boat harbor. They had been soaking over the break period for about 2.5 weeks, so it was time to collect them and put two more out. Jenny was trained in use of the CTD and water filtration methods to complete the HABs sampling protocols. We also had to put off our checkout dive for Jenny this week, as some paperwork needed to be filed and confirmed prior to getting cleared by our UA Dive Safety Officer.
June 24, Sunday – Saint Paul, Pribs Blues Muse Season 2 continues after a short hiatus! We woke early this morning in Juneau and arrived in the late afternoon after two flights and stops in Anchorage and Dillingham. Our team, consisting of myself (Jared) and Technician Jenny Renee. Jenny hails from Seattle, Washington and University of Washington. She is an experienced AAUS diver and previously came to St. Paul for Bering Sea Days 2017 as a representative of the NOAA-UW Blue King Crab project currently underway developing socio-economic models of the fisheries and St. Paul community. After arriving with ALL of our luggage, we settled in at Staff Quarters and unpacked our gear and supplies. Note, Lena Block, AAUS/OWUSS Mitchell Intern decided not to return with Pribs Blues Muse after the early summer trip and we wish her the best.