CATHRINE PRENOT FOX
ONBOARD NOAA SHIP OSCAR DYSON
JULY 24 – AUGUST 14, 2011
The head of our scientific team, Dr. Chris Wilson, introduced Staci (the other Teacher at Sea) and me to the director of the Kodiak Fisheries Research Center, Dr. Robert Foy. Bob took us on an amazing backroom tour of the Center, complete with two story aquariums, open tanks (Staci calls them underwater petting zoos), huge lab spaces and experiments in progress. One of the coolest organisms was a Giant Pacific Octopus. We got to play with it. Read that last sentence again, will you? We got to play with it. Amazing, eh?
The wildlife viewing both underwater and on land has been spectacular. We drove down to a remote place called Fossil Beach around the bluff from Pasagshak Bay on the southeast side of the island and encountered wild horses on the way there, (spotted?) seals cruising the beach and three Kodiak brown bears on the way home (!). Two of the bears were smaller juveniles fishing at river crossings; the third was a huge adult that ran out in front of the car. The hump on its back was the level of the roof. Seriously? This bear was the size of a small pony. Other wildlife abound: otters, pigeon guillemots and jellyfish swim around our ship, black oystercatchers and fox parade on shore and bald eagles sail overhead. So, while we are all anxious to “get fishin,” we are still learning a ton and having an excellent time.
I’ll leave you with a photo of one of the bears: a “tiny” juvenile fishing in the Olds River in Kalsin Bay. Oh, and if you have any ideas for interesting ocean organisms for Adventures in a Blue World, drop me a line. I’m working on two really cool ones that I’ll deliver in the next several days, but then will be looking for new inspiration.
Until our next adventure,
Teacher on Land, Cat Fox
p.s. To clear up a common misconception: Grizzly and Brown Bears are the same species, Ursus arctos. Inland bears are usually called Grizzlies, coastal are browns.
p.p.s. A few folks have sent me some great new links on octopuses. Here is a video showing octopus camouflage and an interesting article on an octopus from Germany that picked the winners in the World Cup last summer.