Saturday, July 12, 2008

Day 46-I'm Back in Barrow Again--

I was trying to come up with a clever title and the one above is the only one that occured to me from that great Gene Autry classic, "I'm back in the saddle again, back where a friend is a friend" For those of you who don't know who Gene Autry is,don't be concerned--you aren't missing much--
After the 90+ degree heat of California--the brisk 40 degrees of Barrow is comfortable--refreshing really--The ice has moved offshore, we've got open water for small boats to go out hunting and fishing, not much sometimes only 50 -100 yards, but the boats are out there, the caribou are starting to move north and one of the bear guards said that either he or his brother(i forget which) had shot 5 the previous day. they are out on the BEO (Barrow Environmental Observatory) where a lot of the plant and bird people do their research. The caribou move north to escape the flies and mosquitos. I was talking to Lauren and she had pictures of the offal that the hunters had left from the caribou, and mentioned that they were trying to use some of it to feed Snowy Owl hatchlings that they are banding and monitoring.
I met up with Frank Kelley when I got off the plane on Wednesday, he is the Polar Trec teacher from Vermont who will be with us until the end of the field season, he is posting a journal at under Nuvuk Archaeology, the previous teacher, Elizabeth Eubaks was here for the previous month and her journal is interesting also--she has really nice pictures of birds if that is your thing(Sarah and Doug) Her journal is listed under Tundra Dynamics. Her last day was yesterday so about 20 of us went to Pepe's for dinner.
The night before the whole 10 of us went to dinner at Osaka's and on the way in this older Native Alaskan, pulled up next to us in a pickup truck, rolled down the window and asked "you guys wanta buy some baleen?" Most baleen is pure black with grainy lines in it, it is basically keratin(sp) like hair or fingernails, so after establishing the price, I bought one of the 2 pieces he had. 5' long and about 6" wide at the base, AND it is black with a pearlized whitish layer on top. The deal is that it has to be signed by an alaskan native to be legal, and this guy did not have a scribe with him and neither did we, but ANY alaskan native can sign it and that makes it legal for export, I'll have one of the bear guards or one of the kids sign it--
Spring/Summer is here in Barrow with plants desperately tryng to flower and reproduce before they get frozen again. Denver, the Snowy Owl guy, has been trapping lemmings and dissecting them to get an idea of the lemming reproduction rate, as it relates to how well the owl chicks will do--more on that later, Frank and I may go out with him next weekend to help--
pictures this time are not that dramatic, one small ice bit that is clinging to the shore at the point and some of the flowers that have been poking up--

Bye for now--


erik said...

Nice Pictures! These plants sure must be hardy to be growing and thriving in a small corner of what looks to be a gravel pit! Its amazing to see flowers in such a hostile climate! e.

erik said...

I would love to see a picture of the 5' long piece of baleen you were able to get Dave, I am curious of what it looks like and what one could make with it! e.