10 July, 2001
Today was another very nice day to work; it was cool and sunny by afternoon. In the morning it was very cloudy, we thought we would be having another typical Bering Strait day. It is only a matter of time before we once again witness the cold Arctic wind and lower temperatures.
We (Julie, Maria, Wesley, and myself) finished level 2. We celebrated with a cheer, now on to level 3. We can see posts now all around TEL 079. This is where we think the house was standing 700 years ago. We are digging down thought the sod level. They used sod for the walls of the house. I came upon a large walrus skull. After I excavated it, there was another underneath it, with two scapulas next to it, and a few large bones. A scapula is the shoulder bone. This may be a clue! To me the excavation is a mystery unraveling. Each piece of the puzzle is slowly being put together. We may not finish, but as we go you can see more And more.
Siksik: One of the animals that we see every day is the Siksik (the Arctic ground squirrel). These Arctic squirrels are the only members of the squirrel family found on mainland Arctic region. They are also the only Arctic mammals that hibernate in the winter. They become what are called torpid (their metabolism, breathing and heart rate almost stop). They are just big enough to survive the cold, without freezing to death. They live in large colonies, and their home is a system of burrows with many side entrances. They build at a slope to keep in enough warmth to survive. They live near bogs, sand dunes, rivers, and gravel. Siksiks eat seeds, plants, flowers, and roots and unfortunately for the babies, they may eat them when needed. They are in turn, prey to many animals. Siksiks do need to prepare for the long Arctic winters by eating a great deal and they need to store food to tidy them over the winter. We have Siksiks as visitors every day. They do have an amazing network of burrows. We hear and see them constantly. We have encountered many Siksik homes as we excavate.
Another whale was sighted tonight, a gray whale. Unfortunately I did not see this whale, hopefully next time. I think it is incredible we have the opportunity to see whales, seals, many birds, and who knows what will tomorrow bring?
Answer to yesterday's question: PB2 is pilot bread with peanut butter and chocolate chips on top, a delicious treat any time of the day of night.
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