13 March, 2001
Today was spent learning more about the island by taking a driving tour. We loaded the van with camera gear and headed down the road. The island is filled with dips and curves over a stretch of about 8 miles. There are roughly 300 Native Unangamís found on the island.
The area doesnít fit the classification of true tundra in that it lacks a layer of permafrost beneath the soil, but it does meet the general description, which is "a level or rolling treeless plain characteristic of arctic or subarctic regions, with dominant vegetation of mosses, lichens, herbs, and dwarf plants." The dominant ground covers are Aleutian heather, kinnikinnick, crowberry, blackberry, grasses, mosses, and lichens. I visited with a local lady who showed me some fabulous pictures taken at different times of the year. In the summer rich, lush, green vegetation is visible. The winter is brown and snow covered.
We had our initial science meeting to discuss the cruise plans, goals, and updates regarding sampling collection protocol. The nature of marine field oceanography relies on flexibility and change. This year the area has experienced unseasonably warm temperatures. Under ice-free conditions, seas can be choppy, which consequently can effect our ability to deploy equipment overboard. The assessment of needs will be continually reviewed. This is where flexibility will be critical. This gives a renewed sense to the saying "go with the flow". I sense this personality of this party to be compatible with flexibility.
This region of the world is very dependent on the whole relationship between man and his use of the marine ecosystem. For example, if the weather doesnít produce ice, the people on the islands are hunting certain marine mammals under less than desirable conditions. This can lead to inadequate amounts of food for the community. Marine animals are migrating at different time patterns due to the current conditions of the Bering Sea. This area seldom sees large motorized vessels. Our job is to carry out the scientific mission being sensitive to the concerns of the communities located in the Bering Sea.
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