16 June, 1999
June 16th, 1999 - Walking on Tundra...
Hello all! Today I had my first real taste of what wildlife research in the arctic is like. The temperature dipped down a bit (in the 30's) and it was very windy! The Steller's Eider crew (we number 9 now) broke down into teams of 2 and began surveys on foot of the tundra. Philip Martin, a biologist for USFWS (United States Fish and Wildlife Service) and I traveled for a few miles (it felt like MANY miles) around frozen lakes and through snow and puddles, over the ground that is broken into polygons. The tundra is like mud puddles when they dry up and contract, and form polygon shapes. Between the polygon shapes of land is water of various depths that will refreeze when winter comes. It forms ice wedges that grow larger and deeper with each passing winter.
We used aerial maps to orient ourselves and plot locations of any Steller's Eiders that we saw. We tromped around outside from 11am until 6pm, when we had to go pick up the last 2 members of the team from USFWS at the airport. We are now full force! There are probably more of us (9), then there are Steller's Eiders. Well, that is not QUITE true, but it felt like it today. Of the 3 teams that went out to survey different areas, each of us found 3 pairs of Steller's Eiders. Sometimes, it is difficult to tell if it is the same pair just moving around !
I also have developed blisters on the back of my heels from my hipwaders which are still too big. I have put felt insoles in them, and wear 2 pairs of wool socks. Kara Weller, a seasonal employee of USFWS, was kind enough to give me some moleskin to put over my blisters. Not that I am whining, now! I realize I have the habit of giving very little sympathy to my friends, and I know people who are reading this are now thinking of what I say to them when they complain: " Suck it up!"
I am working hard to attach photos to this journal entry, but may need to enlist help in the morning, so sorry for any delay.
By the way, it is 1:42 am right now, and as bright as the middle of the day was today. It is just now starting to feel more normal to go to sleep when it is so bright outside. Hope everyone is doing well, and thank you to everyone who responded to me today - it was so nice to get mail! Aloha to Wai'anae High School, if you were able to get over your own internet troubles!
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