Friday, August 8, 2014

why round island? why Walrus?

 been a bit of a week for me.  i guess it's good in that it renews my passion for what i have gotten myself into here.  not everyone will agree with me and not everyone thinks the same.  it's hard to understand views sometimes that seem so counter to yours.  sometimes i'm surprised at how people think.  it's part of the mix out there and most importantly, those people with counter views are the ones i need to convince that this place matters and is unique and worthy of our time, money and attention.
 got an on call tonight and instead of sleeping like i probably should do i have  been trying to study up a bit.
 Round Island is a unique place and a  beautiful place. not many people will ever get out there, but that in no way lessens it's value.  i am not a biologist of course, but for walrus research this is one place that has been consistently monitored for 39 years. i think there is value in that.  i also think they do research that consists of more than just counting walrus.  it's helpful to have trained people on the island in the summers not only to aid the few that come but to assist the researchers that come.  they assist with data collection for a variety of entities...Us fish and wildlife services, Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska Division of fish and game, marine mammal division, alaska sea life center and Bristol Bay Native Association.  it's not just walrus but the other species that are out there.  thousands of birds migrate through there.
 could this be done by lay persons, i'm not sure.  i'd rather have someone out there than nobody.
 if we just walked away the walrus would still haul out, no doubt there would be increased disturbances to them and i've no doubt as well that there would be poaching.  the number killed would probably not impact the entire walrus population, however, i personally feel that we should have a zero poaching policy.  i often hear of people who take bears or moose out of season being prosecuted, why then would this be any different for walrus?  why would we turn a blind eye to this.  i for one don't believe we should .  boat traffic would be more free to just cruise up to the island whenever and however they pleased and the walrus would panic and possibly harm themselves.
people would  still camp there, but they would probably want to try and get closer and closer with their iphones for a better picture or a selfie with a walrus..again this could easily cause the walrus to panic.  they have been known to panic from a raven flying to close.  they are vulnerable on land and they know it.  they move much slower on land...they weigh up to 2 tons.
 those before us were wise to see what an amazing gem this place was and designate it as a sanctuary.  it is up to us to say not here, not these walrus.  this can be a controlled environment where the walrus are safe and humans can sit and watch them and listen to the beautiful chiming sounds.  the animals here can be kept free from the poaching that can and does happen on the many other shorelines of Alaska.
 also generations may come and enjoy this same peace and beauty.  groups of kids come out to the island to learn and experience it and those programs would surely be halted as well with staff off the island
 the cost last year was nearly $110,000.  it seems like a lot on it's face but a budget of over 200million it really doesn't amount  to a huge amount.  with various entities, such as our group, eventually pitching in some to lessen those costs it is possible.
 the acting director of wildlife conservation wrote me that he was confused as to why i thought politics had anything to do with this and then directed me to someone who it turns out works for the highly controversial pebble mine as a possible donor for us...i'm just not used to dealing with people who try to use trickery and dishonesty...or just try to treat me like i'm a complete moron.  so this week was very frustrating for me.
 our kickstarter campaign kicked off, we have reached out goal..thank you to those donors!!  thankfully i had made our goal fairly low.  the link that kickstarter creates made most people just watch a video and really have no idea that donations had even been requested.  so that wasn't very helpful.
 that should be the link if anyone wants to add to that...our goal with that is to make enough money to get pamphlets and bumper stickers made.  this will help us spread the word of the situation and of our group.
 i think these big boys could use our help.  visiting them on their island was a life changing experience.  it's just so unique and inspiring...yes, they are a wee bit stinky and loud, but how many places on this earth are you given an opportunity to camp with walrus and fox and thousands of birds.
 there are things that could improve out there, transportation being the biggest i can think of.  it's been hit and miss which makes planning a trip like this extremely difficult, it's worth all the effort though.
 i hope that we can come together and convince those who make the decisions that this place is best served continuing on with a staff on the island monitoring the animals and the activity around the animals.
 i looked up the 32 sanctuaries, refuges and critical habitats that are at risk at this time and only a handful actually do have groups that have been formed specifically for their protection.  i am happy and proud to be creating this group and i hope that the frustration i feel from time to time is used to spurn me on forward.
 the world is in an uproar, wars, diseases, hatred, but on this group of islands peace exists.
 fox frolic and walrus feed...and if you are lucky can join them for a few days.
 i'm trying to learn what i need to learn to best serve this place and the people who are counting on me.  some days i feel scared and inadequate.  i never doubt the importance and the goals of protecting these great animals and these islands...of letting the world know that this marvelous place exists.
 i have passion, i have drive....the rest will come of that i have faith and hope.
i'm thankful that there are beautiful places left on this earth that have remained unspoiled, i'm grateful that there are animals left  to roam in peace and i'm grateful that i have been blessed to return to this island twice and bask in the glory of it all.

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