Wednesday, July 18, 2012

round island 2...

only have one card left to load. will continue to share pictures and hope i get a nice mixture every day i load em. actually got to the pictures from the start so tossed a few of those in today. a few of these are on day 2-3. the walrus left flat rock with our boats arrival on the first day, sadly, as we scared them off. they only go onto flat rock at the higher tides. seems to be a prized place to haul out and there is some bantering for position on the rock, which is always entertaining. this guy was just cute! i know some might not find walrus overly adorable, but you gotta love this guys face! they aren't known as a cuddly animal but truely they kinda are, at least with each other. they like to be touching and are known to be very tactile in the wild. we heard the tape recording done underwater and they make alot of noise to each other, obviously communicating. the chiming is often heard with these kinda ping noises as well. i'm still missing the chiming at night and have listened to the recording i found by diane many times.
over the years various trails have been utilized on the island. kinda fun to see the variety. not a place one would replace entire trail systems rapidly so as the old wear out they get replaced, the most current is a plastic grid system that allows plants to grow through while allowing the grid surface to assist with walking.
these are a few from a walk to the seal lion haul out. i have been holing up these past few days. i often do after a trip. gotta get my me time in after spending a week with people. my inner hermit requires it. did manage to get to the dog park again. it's hot here by alaskan standards, that means it must have hit 70 degrees. that's about as high as anchorage ever gets. i've been catching up on the newspapers and still going through gear and storing stuff.
the island is green and lush. as you can see no trees. that is how most islands are out there. beautiful though.
we were lucky as the wildflowers were in bloom, a great time to be on the island for that reason.
these are on or near flat rock. it's on the one side of the boat cove. when we came in 2003 we had to land in another area as there were walrus hauled out in this cove. i kept looking at the cliff we hauled our gear up and i just don't recall it being such an ordeal...could just have looked much less daunting to my 10 year younger body. happily, we got to use the metal staircase that gets installed each summer for this purpose. they had alot of visitors this summer. we were the last scheduled for the year. this happened because terry came out again. they have had no scheduled visitors the last 2 years, just a few fishermen who called the island to request a day out there to check it out. the day permit is $10. i suspect the numbers will be down again next summer. i don't think terry wants to keep making the run. he's hoping a guy from togiak, mark will take it over. so if you want to try this journey you will probably be going out of togiak.
tried some black and white. many were blurry. not sure if my eyesight is getting worse or if i just took crappy black and whites of the walrus.
this one looked fine. we did have somewhat bleak weather for attempting black and white anyway. seems to work better on less cloudy/foggy days.
as i sat on the lookout above flat rock i enjoyed watching the jostling for position and also the other walrus in the water wander about debating their run at the rock. a few came up, a few attempted to and were persuaded not to continue the process.
the ones that were there looked reasonably happy. the big guy at one point decided to reposition himself. i thought that poor guy in the back was going to get knocked off the rock, but he eventually was able to reposition and then all were again happy. the bigger you are the more likely you will get your position of choice.
as everyone asks me i will just address the colours. the walrus tend to be lighter when they are out swimming. thier body shunts the cells inward to protect vital organs from the cold waters. once they are hauled out on land thier skin pinks up as the cells move back to heat up those area's of the walrus. not sure i explained that technically, but you get the idea. on land they are pinker. the longer they are out the darker the pigment becomes. thus...the variety of colours.
must take a moment and congratulate my friend maria. she went with us last time in 2003. she has gotten married and had a few kids since then and texted me to say that as she was attempting to look at my pictures on facebook and here on the blog, she went into labor with baby three. sounds like all went well and she had a healthy baby congrats!!
it's fun to watch how they use thier flippers, both front and back. just amazing how much more agile they are in the water as opposed to on land. though i did see a few move fairly quick on land when they wanted. the big ones lift up with the front flippers then shift their large bellies then finally move the back flippers up a big, then it starts all over. kinda reminded me of a few of my super overweight patients and how they move...i know that is terrible. i go back to work tomorrow night.
a few of the black and whites came out nicely.
logistically, i'd have to say this trip is much more manageable with a group size of 6. i was kinda happy that the one person dropped out. for the return trip with the fish and game crew it worked out to 3-3-3 for the runs. with his smaller boat and using the cessna 185, two trips of 3 people would have been more optimal. he did use the beaver for the group of 4 and that has more payload.
this guy has blood, but if you keep looking you will see that he scratched at himself and then the blood showed up. their flippers have nails on them, they actually look pretty large. you'll be able to see them in other pictures at some point.
this guy is pretty light coloured so he was probably the newest walrus on the rock.

there he is scratching himself.
this spotted seal showed up with the tide several nights. not a normal visitor to the island though not unheard of. kinda south for him. he's in a bit of a fog, we were laughing as he kept trying to stay out of the water as long as he could.
the fox are playing around the cook tent. always entertaining.
always entertaining and they move much faster than the walrus.
many throw away pictures of me attempting to capture birds in flight. i'm just not that quick or patient for it. this is up at the rookery.
another island shot.
unloading sue onto the island from the little zodiak. val is part way up the stairs. we were tag teaming the gear transfer to i'd come down there and haul it up to the whale bones.
terry's boat out in boat cove.
the walrus with his head up is on alert...he was the one who finally got too nervous and made the leap for the water, the others quickly followed.
on the other end. i was the first into the boat. i had on hip waders so terry and i walked out into bristol bay as far as we could, which was actually a long ways. the tide was low and the bering sea in general is not a deep ocean. my gathering is this is why it can get so dang rough out there. my theory is that in deeper ocean you have some stablility, but that doesn't exist here. i could be totally wrong though. i did get a feel for how rapidly and cruelly the sea can change. we got caught out on the way back and it was scary and soupy.waves were everywhere, chaotic.
this day was quite pleasant over though a bit bumpy. our zodiak rides were uneventful. well as uneventful as a zodiak ride can be with transfers to from boats. above is val with terry.
i'm on the big boat, val in the zodiak and in the distance you can see sue on the beach.
above is a photo taken by val. i'm walking with terry. we were kinda passing time to see if the tide would come in a bit, i think terry was happy to just walk for a bit anyway though.
not easy to see but those are all brown bear tracks out there.
below val and sue walk the beaches of eagle bay.
rick, of tikchik air, circled around before he landed. on the right side you can see eagle bay where the boat was to meet us and on the left is the lagoon he lands in. we just have to carry our gear from the lagoon to the beach. not too far a distance really.
off in the distance i saw our island, round island. the dragons spine is prominant.
another shot of eagle bay. you can just barely see the boat out there. as we were turning the plane there was a bald eagle flying right below us. pretty cool to see if from above. lots of gulls on the lagoon and in the bay.
a few shots from the hour flight from dillingham.

sue in the front seat.
val and i in the back. i'm not really a fan of the front seat. not sure why, probably my height issues. i'm all happy in a window seat in the back.
at the float plane dock.
a few from dillingham. since last we came they have obviously gotten a great art teacher in town who has really perked up the place with some cool murals and art.
gotta love the anti pebble mine sediment. bristol bay is fishery industry and the fear is the proposed mine would cause harm to the salmon. they've had a bad year from what i could gather anyway. the proposed mine is for copper i believe.
liked the fish art though. very cool.
this mural was across from the muddy rudder, where we ate many meals while in dillingham.
when we first got to dillingham it was pouring rain. this is on one of a few trips back to see if possibly the luggage arrived on the pen air flight. we were unaware of the split between the two and the pen air staff was not overly helpful in our stressful dilemma. at least they did get the lost luggage forms put in for us and in the end i think the girl was trying to tell us the truth, which was pen air was not going to be helpful in getting our gear there sooner, we'd just have to wait for alaska air the next day.
scott drove us around town the first day, sue took over the wheel on our return trip. no powersteering, no power anything really. it was a stick shift, so i was out. the engine was under the front seats so very loud. great to have it available for use though. we added gas a few times, though there was no way to know how much gas it had in it. gas in dillingham was $6.82/gallon. so not cheap. val opened the glove compartment at one point and it just came off in her hands. as you drove down the roads to the house it sounded like thunder over all the pot holes. we all loved it though. i think sue bonded with it.
scott above driving, below karen, sue and bob.
the toyota. thanks to the kingfisher for a great place to stay and cars to get around in. everyone in dillingham was great to us while we were there.
another lazy day ended. i'm off to crawl into bed. will continue my round island installments on another day. enjoy.

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