14 July, 1999
Aloha from Alaska,
I awoke to a little brighter sun than I went to sleep to last night. It is hard to imagine the change in life style that must occur when it is winter.
Renee, from the Arctic Research Consortium of the U.S. (ARCUS), and I went out of Fairbanks up the Chena River to where some research is being done on Chum salmon spawning habits. Jim Finn, one of the head researchers from the U.S. Geological Survey's Biological Resource Division was there with his technicians and some visiting students from Germany. They were preparing for the return of the male and female salmon to their study site. They had a weir across a small arm of the river. This way they can control the area where the fish enter and tag them with a number. The orange numbered tag fits through their dorsal fin and is easily recognized. Over the three year period of their study they have identified specific area where they like to spawn. This year within and outside of these areas they have set up probes to meassure physical parameters such as oxygen levels, temperature, and conductivity to try to figure out why they are preferred. They will also look at behavior and count and identify the number of males and females at each site.
I asked if they really do come back to the same site from which they themselves were spawned. Jim said that genetic studies that would be able to answer this question have been proposed, but not conducted. Because the males and females die after spawning tagging would not be effective.
We dined on a delicious lunch of salmon that Renee had caught and smoked accompanied by cream cheese, crackers and fruit. We noticed a native Alaskan wood frog which Renee said was the first she had seen. Unluckily I was not quick enough with my camera; it had brown tones and about 5 centimeters long. We also saw three moose individually in three different wetland areas, all close to the road. This is not the hunting season and amazingly they seem to know.
The rest of the afternoon was spent browsing through downtown Fairbanks looking for warm weather gear and reference material.
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