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August 2019
Summer Programs Continue at Islands & Ocean Visitor Center
Summer daily programs are finishing up this month, so stop by the visitor center before August 17th to catch a program about anything from the history of invasive species on the Refuge to the adaptations of marine mammals. Or maybe you have been wandering through Beluga Slough, wondering about the plants and birds that you see. If so, check out one of our daily ranger- guided hikes. You can find the full schedule of programs  here. 
Students Attend Seabird Camp
Refuge Educator, Kendra Bush, traveled to St. Paul Island to lead local kids in activities, games and scientific discoveries, all centered on learning about the seabirds that breed, by the millions, on their island. This year the camp leaders also offered a special overnight camping trip for the older youth to learn survival and adventure skills. As a finale to their week of learning, the kids performed two plays about the seabirds, complete with amazing costumes, props and performances. You can find out more about  the seabird camp activities and check out more pictures on the seabird youth network website.
Our First Teacher at Sea: Stacy Golden of Sitka High School 

This July, the Refuge hosted our very first Teacher at Sea. Stacy Golden, a life science teacher at Sitka High School, traveled on the R/V Tiglax for 2 weeks through the Aleutian Islands and up to the Pribilofs. She assisted with biological research at various stops along the way and explored the Refuge. Stacy has worked closely with the Refuge in the past to develop wildlife-based lesson plans for high school students, and from this experience will be creating a new curriculum to help students better understand Refuge resource issues and ecological concepts.

Check out one of her journal entries from last month:

"What a wonderful day! But first, last night we stopped by Sirius Point at Kiska Island, unbelievable. It is probably the largest colony of least auklets and boy were they everywhere, plus whiskered and parakeets and crested. They move so fast and in such great numbers. The way they move in such large numbers rivals the fish of the coral reefs.

Today we anchored by Buldir nice and early. It is weird being so far west that it is dark until 8 or so, definitely odd. It's also cold! Glad I brought gloves and a hat. Buldir has a different look to it, mountains and greenery and a very steep beach covered in smooth rocks, palm sized on average. After we delivered fresh supplies to the biologists stationed there for the summer, Dan, Jen and I took off to explore before we headed east again. We skiffed to a sandy beach then walked the beach line looking for an old sperm whale skeleton; all that remained was a broken vertebrae and a couple of rib bones. The beach was littered with hard balls, shoes & boots, floats and plastic bottles. Tough for me to not do a clean up job on every beach we go to. The other thing that littered the beach were green sea urchin shells about 15-20 cm in diameter, they were everywhere! Apparently the gulls love them! Tonight we sail back towards Adak under the bluest skies yet but the fog is ahead. Life is grand aboard the Tiglax!"

Research Highlight: Field Work Continues 

As the summer progresses, researchers across Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge are frantically collecting data before the season ends. From our biological technicians, who have been living out on islands all summer, to shorter projects like those on Bogoslof and St. Matthew Islands, everyone is hard at work across the Refuge. Here are some snippets about what is going on across the Refuge:

  • St. Lazaria: "We spent most of our day grubbing storm-petrel chronology burrows and measuring adorable chicks, including our first Leach's chick measurement! I didn't think it was possible for a chick to be even smaller than the fork-taileds we've measured already!"
  • Chowiet: "Murres are hatching like crazy. Kevin and I both watched multiple chicks hatch and saw a fair number of pipped eggs as well as many chicks. It was a pleasant day to sit and watch our ledge plots, but unfortunately it was a bit too windy for getting another population count done. Our plots seem to be roughly halfway hatched for murres and nearly complete for kittiwakes which is exciting."
  • St. Paul: "We started with our second round of least auklet sampling and set up the mist net as well as trying out a new idea with the noose mats. We’ve noticed that if one auklet lands on the rocks then the rest follow very quickly, but it can take quite a while for the first to land after they all get startled off. We just don’t have the high concentrations of flocks like some of the other islands. It occurred to me that if we had a decoy on the noose mat that it might draw in more birds faster so we grabbed an old foam float off the beach and have been carving away. Sarah’s was done today so we gave it a try. It worked like a charm! The auklets seemed a bit hesitant to hang out with their odd flock mate but were happy to land next door and go check him out."
  • St. George: "Erin and I spent the better part of the day in the auklet colony catching birds. We brought a decoy with us and did not have the same success as our neighbors on St. Paul. Our birds took it as more of a deterrent than an invitation, we ended up moving in to a rock we didn't want them to land on. We banded six new birds and had one recapture, I even got some auklets to give diet samples right into the jar!"
  • Buldir: "Our young whiskered auklets are disappearing as in they are fledging from the nest. We will miss those little ones. We also spent time reminiscing about the coconut fish tacos we ate last night and anticipating the fish curry we will ingest tonight."
  • Cape Lisburne: "Made it down to the seabird cliffs today. It was kind of hard to see much due to the high winds (blowing 30+, gusting 40+) but it looked like murres were incubating or brooding, and the kittiwakes were sitting pretty tight. "
Staff Spotlight
IOVC Summer Staff

Jen Chauvet 
Seasonal Ranger 

Jen first visited Alaska in 1998 as a young marine biology student. She stood at the then-towering edge of Exit Glacier and immediately fell in humbled-love with this seemingly mythical and magical place. She knew she’d be back. Nine years later, after completing a Master of Education at Western Washington University, she returned to Alaska (and to Exit Glacier) to work as a seasonal Park Ranger for Kenai Fjords National Park. She has been in Alaska, off and on, since then. Originally from California, Jen has been blessed to live, work, and travel all over the world – from Eastern Massachusetts to Central America, Europe to Southeast Asia, the Indian subcontinent, and beyond. Most recently, she traveled back to India, where she studied yoga and worked as a Naturalist in two of India’s Tiger Reserves. In 2016, she and her husband moved from Seward to Homer, without jobs or a plan, simply because they thought Homer was pretty dreamy. Jen is excited to be working as a Ranger for Alaska Maritime this summer and would love for you to join her on a walk at Beluga Slough. When she’s not Rangering, you’ll find her on the trails, in her garden, or chasing her rowdy dogs down the beach.

Will Tjeltveit
Summer Student Conservation Association Intern 
Will Tjeltveit is originally from Pennsylvania and is currently a rising senior at Trinity College in Connecticut. There he studies history but has been able to pursue his passions for the environment and working with others here at the Refuge this summer. At the Visitor Center, he leads a variety of programs for visitors to the Refuge including guided hikes and talks on invasive species. Last summer he worked at a Civil War battlefield in Tennessee for the Park Service and hopes to continue leading interpretive programs at National Wildlife Refuges and National Parks after graduation!
Islands & Ocean Visitor Center Summer Hours
May 21- Labor Day
Daily 9am-5pm

Daily Programs 
June 9th - August 17th
(see schedule for details)

Beluga Slough Ranger-Led Walks: 11am daily and 1pm on Sundays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

Natural History Talks: 3pm on Sundays, Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

Alaska Maritime Map Talks: 1pm & 1:30pm Mondays and Tuesdays. 3pm & 3:30pm Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. 

Guided Tidepooling:  Biweekly on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays. Times vary, see below. Meet staff at Bishop's Beach parking lot. Look for guides wearing orange vests. Wear warm clothes and rubber boots. 

August Tidepooling Dates:
Thursday, August 1st, 8:30 - 10:30am. 
Friday, August 2nd, 9:00 - 11:00am.
Thursday, August 15th, 8:30 -10:30am. 
Friday, August 16th, 9:00 - 11:00am. 
Thursday, August 29th
Pre-K Puffins Early Learning Program
10-11:30am; Islands & Ocean Visitor Center Seminar Room
This educational program is designed for children ages 2-5 and focuses on the marine sciences. It will include story time, crafts and early learning centered activities. Learn more.

Critter Corner: Harbor Seal
Although harbor seals are found in all parts of the Northern Hemisphere, only one subspecies of harbor seal resides in Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge waters - the Pacific harbor seal (Phoca vitulina richardii). Their dog-like facial features support their common nickname - “Sea Dogs.” As a true seal, harbor seals lack external ear flaps, have small forelimbs, and cannot walk on land - rather, they scoot on their bellies (we highly recommend you try this at home)! You can see these curious critters in nearshore waters as they use their torpedo-like body to swim forward, upside down, and to hold their well-developed eyes above water and see what’s going on.
Copyright © 2019 US Fish and Wildlife Service, All rights reserved.

Photo credits (top to bottom, left to right): 
Least Auklets on St. Paul by Sarah Tanedo/USFWS. 
Guided Tidepooling by Maya Frydman/USFWS. 
Seabird Camp on St. Paul Island courtesy of Ram Papish.
Stacy Golden on the R/V Tiglax by USFWS. 
Seabird Monitoring on Chowiet by McKenzie Mudge/USFWS. 
Jen Chauvet by Jen Chauvet/USFWS.
Will Tjeltveit by Will Tjeltveit/USFW. 
Harbor Seal by Ryan Mong/USFWS.

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