Nine hours a day in the classroom….three hours a day of homework…. three weeks straight with no breaks. Yep, being a groundfish observer is not as simple as catching a flight up to Alaska and jumping on a boat, but it’s been an amazing learning experience so far! We’ve been working around the clock trying to prepare for the demanding job to come – 18 hour days at sea assessing fish stock populations, monitoring for marine mammals and sea bird interactions, collecting biological specimen data a variety of species, among countless other duties on board our vessels. Not only that, but each and every one of us works independently as we are assigned to a variety of vessels, so it is imperative we are completely confident with our sampling methods and data collection techniques to provide substantiated, unbiased data that could potentially affect the entire fishery – a multi-billion dollar industry. And yet after three weeks of long and grueling days in the classroom and countless practical exercises, I still get the feeling that the moment I step on that boat, I’ll have absolutely no idea what I’m doing!
In spite of the rigorous work schedule, I’ve always had a knack for getting my work done early so I can get out and explore wild Alaska at the end of the day, and I’ve had the chance to do some pretty amazing things since I’ve been here. Whether it’s been hiking up a mountain peak barefoot (and yes that includes crossing snow fields…at one point I was wondering if my toes were still connected to my feet), running out during low tide to find myself rummaging knee deep in mud, riding a bike to the outskirts of town only to bump into two very large moose staring back at me with one heck of an intimidating stare, or simply going on a road trip with my roommates down to Seward – I always managed to find myself with yet another exciting adventure in my three weeks of class. So here are some photos, enjoy!
And for those of you wondering, it looks like I’ll be heading out to Dutch Harbor on the 7th to depart on my first vessel, and let me assure you, I cant wait!!!!
Sporting my immersion suit – this bad boy will keep me alive if our boat sinks and we have to jump into the frigid arctic waters! Hopefully this will be the last time I ever put it on!
Getting our Groundfish Observer certification on our last day of class! Yipee!!
Nature is my playground…
This is exactly how it came out of the moose…I swear!!
A lovely little stop on our way down to Seward
Moonrise over the mountains
Beautiful Alaskan sunset – these are hard to come by since the sun goes down around 11pm these days, so rarely am I out in an area where I can catch a good glimpse.
happy and in my element
Shelter from the wind
The fastest way down the snowy mountain slopes
Tromping through the mud!