Some of you may remember some posts about a trip to Albania and Kosovo last year. Here’s an article that’s recently been published in a German ski magazine. Thanks Lea, Benoît, Fabien, Gent, and everyone else that made the journey!
I realize I have been bitching and moaning about all sorts of things recently: mortgage drama, lack of snow, blah blah blah. A quick glance at the calendar gives me a bit of perspective and I’ve really got nothing to complain about compared to what people had to deal with 70 years ago today. I certainly wouldn’t have the luxury of my petty little problems without the hard work and sacrifice of the Greatest Generation.
U.S.S. Arizona memorial – January 2010.
Bookends to the US involvement in WWII: The U.S.S. Missouri in front of the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial – January 2010. The Japanese surrendered on the U.S.S. Missouri on Sept. 2, 1945.
The crater where the first bomb fell on Ford Island – July 2008. Photo by Anna McGregor.
After a month of housing limbo in CA and a week of liver workouts at the Society of Marine Mammalogy meeting in Florida, I’ve finally made it to Washington. The housing limbo continues (4th time’s the charm?) but at least I’m in the right county in the right state with the right people looking at the right mountain. I knew I was in the right place when I started seeing friends as soon as I started driving through downtown Bellingham and had started catching up before I had even finished parking. To top it off, they showed me a nice two-page spread in the December/Photo Annual issue of Backcountry magazine. The funny thing is that the photo they chose was taken exactly a year ago to the day. I’m not sure if I believe in signs or omens or whatever, but this was pretty cool.Now I just have to wait for my house purchase drama to finally come to a close and I can focus on skiing and music. The first Metalmücil practice is looming! Glacier, watch your eardrums.
Today was opening day at my home mountain of Mt. Baker. They received over two feet of cold dry powder the day before and it was quite possibly the best opening day in recent memory.Or so I heard. I wasn’t there. Nope, I’m still stuck in CA while my home-buying adventure slowly turns into a nightmare. Hopefully I will be able to move in to the house I am trying to buy by early December, otherwise I’m going to have to start an “Occupy: Glacier” protest until the situation gets fixed. I’ll spare everyone the details but I will say this: given the amount of incompetence shown by the Washington State Housing Finance Commission and the people behind the USDA rural development loan, it’s no surprise the mortgage industry is in such a sorry state. Since I’m not skiing I have lots of time to think back to all the awesome days I got in last season, some of which have shown up in print. Here are a few of them for your viewing enjoyment. The first in line happens to be the very first shot that Grant and I took during our trip to Japan last January. For some reason, Salomon decided it was worthy of a two-page ad even though I have absolutely nothing to do with Salomon. It was taken under a chairlift sometime in the afternoon. If that had been Mt. Baker, that line would have been shredded exactly 30 seconds after the first chair had unloaded in the morning.
The second image is in the Patagonia Holiday 2011 catalog. It was taken the same day as the previous image as Grant and I walked back to our hotel. Bonus points go to those that can ID what’s wrong with my jacket.
The final photo is a two-page spread in the December issue of Powder magazine. This photo was also taken during our time in Myoko. The tree we were jumping through ended up falling over later that season due to too much snow.
And there you have it. Here’s to more of the same in 11/12!
Here’s another paper from the killer whale project I worked on in the Shetland Islands during the summer of 2009. Thanks again for the opportunity Dr. Foote!
Here are two recent publications from studies I’ve worked on in the past. It’s good to finally see the results of your efforts, even if the project isn’t necessarily yours and your name isn’t on the top of the paper. The first is on killer whale vocal behavio(u)r and feeding ecology the Shetland Islands, way up in North Atlantic. I had the pleasure of assisting Volker, Andy, and Milaja for two weeks in the summer of 2009 while I was working on my MRes at University of Aberdeen, and those two weeks pretty much made my year in Scotland.
The second is on the distribution and abundance of cetaceans around Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, over in the Western Tropical Pacific and Philippine Sea. This paper is the result of the first dedicated marine mammal survey of the area which took place during the winter of 2007, and it’s nice to see as since this cruise, I’ve been back to the area twice to find marine mammals, including the project I’m working on right now.
The days are getting shorter and there’s a slight bite to the air which means winter is just around the corner. Of course, those folks in the PNW are still wondering if summer will ever get here, but with ski magazines and other winter-related media showing up in mailboxes it’s clear that summer has already missed the boat. Speaking of ski media, I just received a copy of the Great Canadian Heli-Skiing brochure, and hey presto there’s a Grant Gunderson shot of myself, K.C. Deane, and Zack Giffin getting ready to jump in the bird for another supremo run during our trip up there two seasons ago. No, that photo wasn’t staged; that stupid grin was on my face all day long. Since it was his first day in a heli I’m pretty sure K.C. had a similar grin but it’s covered by his Yowie. Here’s to more of that this season!
In order to keep sharp for the fall reunion tour I recorded the first Metalmücil demo tracks while working on the NOAA ship Gordon Gunter. The band is on summer break so I had to play everything myself; it’s nowhere near as good as the real thing but until we are all back at Hemlock Environmental Studios this will have to do.Enjoy! Or don’t.
I know a few biologists that don’t like necropsies but for the life of me I can’t figure out what’s not to like, aside from the smell. Death is a part of life and it’s not every day you’re given the chance to really get down and dirty with your study subjects. To this day some of my most cherished science-nerd memories come from necropsies – a spotted hyena in Kenya and the infamous Friday Harbor fin whale come to mind. Anyways, word spread around San Juan Island that there was a Dall’s/harbor porpoise hybrid that had stranded at South Beach on Saturday, and the necropsy was planned for Monday morning at the University of Washington Friday Harbor Labs. I’ve been to a number of harbor and Dall’s porpoise necropsies but a fresh dead hybrid is a rare find and I was excited to get a close look at one.
Yep, it kind of looks like the offspring of a Dall’s mother and harbor porpoise father.
It was a female and the safe bet before we cut it open was that it was pregnant.
First things first, cut off the dorsal and start taking blubber samples. Joe Gaydos of www.seadocsociety.org was the master of ceremonies. If you ever need someone to cut up a marine mammal for you, I highly recommend Joe.
Muktuk? No thanks, I think I’ll make sure that parasite is fully cooked, thanks.
Once the blubber was gone from one side, Joe started on the muscle. This would be the tenderloin, no?
In order to get into the body cavity you need to break open the pruning shears. **Ccrrrrraaaaccckk!!!!
Guts on the half shell. Hmm, what’s that blob down there?
Baby! This little girl was full-term and probably would have been born in the next month or so had the mother not died.
According to Joe this was the most interesting find of the whole necropsy. Not only does it prove that these hybrids are viable reproducers, it will be interesting to look at the genetics see who the father is. Is the little girl 3/4 Dall’s or 3/4 harbor porpoise?
She’s got some whiskers proving she’s a mammal.
Now, back to the mother. All of her teeth were worn down to the gumline suggesting this was an older animal.
Samples were taken from just about every part of the animal. Here Joe works on the heart and lungs.
Digging deep for the really good stuff.
Aha! Here’s what remains of the pelvis. Cetaceans evolved from land mammals but I guess they got tired of having hind legs and a pelvis.
Squeezing feces out of the colon. If you don’t think this is cool you shouldn’t be/go into biology.
Removing the ovaries.
Slicing open the head to look at the eye and other fun parts.
The lens had been damaged by birds.
A dorsal view of the scalped head. That white mass is the melon and the two black sacs allow the porpoise to move air about so it can vocalize.
Everyone loves a flensed out porpoise skull.
The Whale Museum wanted to keep the skeleton so Joe cut it in half so it would transport easier. I pity the poor interns that get to flense it out completely.
These are the blood vessels that run along the surface of the flukes.
Tagging and bagging the carcass.
When it’s all over the samples have been tagged, bagged, and sent off to various labs for analyses. What remains is a garbage can full of blood, guts, blubber, and flesh.
All in all it was a great look at a hybrid porpoise and a wonderful learning experience for everyone present. Thanks to Joe Gaydos for another great necropsy! Now, I think it’s time for lunch. Burgers anyone?