I must admit. I'm a little behind in writing down my experiences right now. In fact, my time in Alaska has come and gone, nothing but photos and memories now. And chilling tales of whales, pipelines, musk ox, oh my!
So remember that "top of the world" thing I said last post? Well that wasn't exactly accurate. If the world was a human head, my location in Alaska would be somewhere near the receding hair line: Prudhoe Bay, Alaska. I personally prefer it's other name: Deadhorse, Alaska. I think it describes the lovely culture there. Deadhorse is located on the northern shore (called the North Slope) of the great state of Alaska. You know that show Ice Road Truckers? Deadhorse is the final stop of the "ice road". End of the line, nothing more than an oiling city. The Alaskan pipelines start in Deadhorse and are filled with arctic oil 24/7. So what the hell was I doing there?
Well not working the oil fields, that's for sure. I was brought to Alaska for the whales, walrus, and polar bears. My job was to sit in the window of a small plane and spot marine mammals. Yep, that's it. As often as the weather allowed our small team of biologists / pilots / myself would fly flight lines over the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas. The purpose? Abundance surveys...to know how many whales are where and when. The data would then be used to determine the health of the mammal populations in that region as well as to support or forbid future oiling projects off the coast of Alaska.
In the past 2 years I've spent a total of 9 weeks flying around looking for marine mammals. Some flee in terror. Others float along blissfully. Others just lie there, either pretending to be dead, or actually being dead. I'd like to say that I've seen everything up there, but I still haven't seen a narwhal, giant squid, or Godzilla monster. The slideshow below is my finest compilation of my view from the sky. Arctic marine mammals beware....the whale paparazzi is always watching.....
The whale pictures in this were taken under permit #: 782-1719 and the walrus photos under permit #: MA212570-0