I'm working as a Fish Culturist at Hidden Falls Salmon Hatchery in a remote spot near Sitka, Alaska! AM I CRAZY!? I'm starting to think so...

Saturday, April 28, 2007

The Week: ("Fun"-scapes in four parts with a camera)

Another fun-filled week.... and lots to talk about... lots of pictures to show also!

So if you are really paying attention, you will notice that I am posting this on Saturday afternoon when I am normally heading back to Takatz. Well the weather hasn't been all that great so I got stuck down there an extra few days, which wasn't that bad. The weather on Wednesday (the day I normally come back) wasn't all that great but also, Chris, who is the new girl replacing Dean, was arriving that afternoon, so we were probably going to switch Thursday morning anyhow to let her get settled. Thursday the weather wasn't good either so I stayed and worked . Friday, which was supposed to be my day off, we managed to make it back around 4pm so I am taking off today and Sunday instead... Adam's orders. ;-)

Things are going really good down there. The fish are growing and eating alot... better than Dan's chum here at the hatchery. he he he We sampled every pen the other day and they are around .69 kg. That probably doesn't mean that much to you I guess... they're growing though. We switched some of the pens to a larger sized food... "0" food is very fine but not quite powder vs. "1" food which is like coffee grounds. And they sure are eating alot of food too. :-) Anyhow, on to some fun stuff...

WHOA alright I swear this is a G-rated story so you can read on! On Wednesday after work, Adam and I decided to venture to the Baranof Hot Springs! That's maybe 6 miles south of Takatz... It was raining and the waves were kind of crazy for some of the drive but Adam said it was just because of the tides. It was nicer coming back. Anyhow, so we make it into the bay and Adam points out something that I thought was a bunch of snow from a distance. It ended up being a waterfall from the river there and it was awesome! Adam said he's never seen it like that before... RAGIN'!

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So it was actually like coming into some civilization... there were a few houses there though we didn't see any people. There was some kind of shop which was closed. There were 3 cabins there, but sadly, they were on a slant because the snow fell and pushed them down. Kind of crazy. Well there is a bath house with a few private tubs where you can sit in and fill it with the water from the hot springs. Only one of them was even working but the water was cold. We guessed that it was chilled as it came down the pipes because they still had ALOT of snow! So despite that snow, we decided to hike up to the pools.

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It was a funny hike up because some of the snow was soft so you'd hit a pocket and sink in. There's apparently a path but it was all snow-covered and like this picture shows, even if you COULD see where you needed to go, you had to pull a risky balancing act. No injuries though! Anyways, half way up I realized "humm... I sure hope there aren't any bears here!" Well finally we made it. Before we came, I had asked Adam if there was anywhere to change up there and he was like "ummmm the woods..." GREAT... thus the title! Ironically, there was a wooden sign hanging on some trees pointing one way and saying it was the changing area, yet there was nothing to change behind! Thankfully though, there was a downed pine tree which gave some privacy. So there I am, changing between a pine tree and a pile of snow into MY BATHING SUIT! A two-piece of course! :-) I was pretty warm from the hike up so I didn't immediately freeze but standing barefoot on mushy ground and trying not to fall onto the pile of snow was an adventure!

Finally I finish and walk to the pool and go to get in. Well Adam failed to mention it was slippery so I slipped and fell on my left knee, which felt GREAAAAAT! The water was warm though.

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See those rocks next to my towel... busted the knee on those. And those are my super-stylish Xtra-Tuf boots that I wear. You can see the downed pine tree on the left... aka "the changing area." To the very right of that tree you can just barely see that wooden sign pointing to "the changing area."

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I was sitting in the upper pool. At the bottom you can see a lower pool and that is the RAGIN river in the background. It added for some awesome sound. On to the interesting FACTOID about the hot springs...

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There is alot of "interesting" algae growing in these pools. It was gross or creepy at first but as Adam said it "you sort of become one with it." There is algae pieces floating in the water, but along the sides you can pull off this SUPER slimy algae that you see in my hand. Once you accept the fact, it becomes kind of cool and fun to play with.

ANYHOW, so we hung out for a while then decided to leave. Lemme tell ya... getting changed back into all my clothes with a bum knee was ALOT harder! Especially when you are partially wet... trying to not get your clothes all dirty and wet... crazy. Hiking back wasn't all that fun though because of my knee. As we got closer to where we came in, we saw a few bear tracks! Yeah, makes ya feel safe right!? :-) The hot springs were cool though and I'd like to go back, but I guess I pictured it different in my mind. I figured the pools would be larger... CLEANER! I guess I just romanticized it in my head... pictured it like something you'd see in Hawaii or something! :-D

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That's nice right!? When I first took off my bathing suit IN THE WOODS, I had a nice layer of this dirty lookin stuff ON ME... and all over my suit.

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So here's my knee as it looks today. When I fell it actually broke the skin so it bled a little. Still a little swollen... turning some colors but I wish it would be more colorful! It sure feels more bruised than it looks. I'll survive though.


I said that I returned to the hatchery on Friday afternoon. Since it was only 4-ish, I asked Scott and Angie what I could help them with. They were out in the round ponds pushing the Early Entry Coho out... and I mean IN the ponds. There are 16 ponds I believe of Coho that go into the saltwater pens early and that's what they were doing. So Scott told me to go put on a pair of waders and help. HA I've never worn waders... I was a bit confused but I got it all figured out. But the second I jumped in, I felt water seepage in my right ankle area! That's a good feeling.

So what we did was... the round ponds are well... ROUND. Duh... so there is this screen thing that is basically two pieces but connected in the middle so it bends... they use this to crowd the fish around into one area. Think the hand on a clock... except you move the pieces toward each other so the fish are pushed to one area. They get sucked down a hole at the bottom of the pond and piped out to a saltwater pen. The interesting part is that the round ponds are also covered in algae and super slippery so it's like ice skating!!

Finally when we got done with that, I was able to take my long awaited shower. Usually I'm down in Takatz for only 4 days (5 nights) but this time it was 6 days! I figured it was about 6 and a 1/4 days without a shower... plus I went in that algae-filled pool of hot springs water! NICE... that's definately a personal (DISGUSTING) record! Not one to really be proud of... that's what I call "being flexible."

Alright don't worry, this blog is winding down! It seems that when I returned to the hatchery yesterday, I discovered one of the special features of Hidden Falls that I knew was there but somehow hadn't seen it before. THE Hidden Falls! As in the waterfall! I knew it was back there somewhere but maybe snow was in the way... I have NO clue how I never saw it. The trees are in the way, but it's HUGE and you can see it through them.

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Make the picture bigger... it might help. But see behind the red box... Don't worry, it will be my mission to get a great shot of this waterfall! The waterfalls here amaze me... that's one thing I love.

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Here is the picture I promised you of throwing the fish food. Kinda cool, right?

Alright, ONE more crazy factoid and I'm done. This is a good factoid for Valerie, cause I know she's a stickler about this. When we first put in a food order for Takatz, we got 2 gallons of milk. This was... like the beginning of April. Both gallons were expiration dated April 7th. WE ARE STILL DRINKING IT! Can you believe that!? As of yesterday, there was about 1/4 of the 2nd gallon left... April 27th! 20 days later and it's still good. We were seriously amazed by this. And we keep it in a cooler outside... not a cold refrigerator... a cooler! :-) ok that's it.

SHOUT OUT OF THE DAY - I don't know anymore... How about I turn this into a game today! EVERYONE who reads this... write me a comment to say hi. You don't have to say anything... just say HI or something and your name so I can know who's reading! ;-)

P.S. I'll give a nickel to anyone who knows how I came up with my corny title.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Pictures of the week

Here are some picture for you... Dean took this really cool picture of me tossing fish food into the water and the food is still in the air. I'm going to get it from him and show it next week.

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You wondered what the bedrooms looked like... this is it! :-D I'm standing as far back as I can... and the bed is up against the wall. The other room is the same size.

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I just think this is a cool picture...

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This is a sea anemone that has grown to the underwater part of the Takatz house. There are a bunch more but I think this was the biggest one. Sorry for the gross stuff floating on the surface of the water.

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While taking the sea anemone picture, I found this guy also hanging out on the side. A big ol starfish. I have seen some MASSIVE starfish since I've been here in Alaska... we have pulled a few out of the crab pots even!

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I didn't realize this until Dean told me to drive the boat over there one day, but there is a small waterfall across the bay. I thought it was just ice or something but the water is really falling.

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Sun makes the babies very happy! When it is sunny, they like to hang out on the very top of the water. Sometimes they are so thick on top that it almost seems like some of them are out of water. Click on the picture to make it a little bigger. My large version is alot nicer because the individual fish are more defined.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Algae Arms & Food Shooters

Alright, before I get into Algae Arms & Food Shooters, I just want to say something. I'm not saying this so I can hear a bunch of nagging and stuff but to... emphasize something. I got a bit sunburned today on my face and arms. I repeat, NO NAGGING... no "oh you're fair skinned..." blah blah... I know all that. My point is that THE SUN WAS OUT AND I WASN'T COVERED FROM HEAD TO TOE WITH CLOTHING!!! Anyhow, I'll get into how great the weather was today in a few... :-)

Soooo I got a email from one of my ADORING FANS today bugging me about how it's been a week since my last blog. WEEEEELLLL... sorry about that. I'm in Takatz 4 days a week so there's really nothing I can do about the lack of reading material for you. :-D Sorry... Takatz goes until the end of May or early June so it's going to be like that until then.

Alright, to get you up-to-date on my week. Sunday at Takatz was awful! Alright so just the weather was awful... started off as rain... ended up SNOWING! UGHH... gross. Then it was this weird mix of rain and snow... blah. Monday... can't even really remember. It rained too. Around 1pm, Adam and I decided to take a ride out towards Chatham Strait to check out the water and to pull up the crab pot. We got like 6 crabs... On the way carrying them to the house where Adam was going to put them in the bucket, one of the crabs pinched me with his snapper! HA HA I had gloves on and these crabs aren't super strong but I felt it... it was kind of funny actually! Anyhow, Tuesday and Wednesday though... UHHHH-MAZING! Great days... when the weather is great, Takatz is great! It makes feeding nice... and it makes the downtime at Takatz great. Both days I spent the afternoon laying on some wooden palettes reading.... trying to pretend I was sunbathing on the beach in Florida. I mean, it wasn't THAT hard... laying on the palettes, looking out onto the water, and it was warm. So what if I was wearing jeans and long underwear and all that and it was probably 50 AT MOST, but it was nice. :-D

Today I worked here at the hatchery. The place seemed deserted today though! Adam and Dean are in Takatz, Dan and Deena have been in Sitka for a few days, Branden and Sarah took off a few days ago because they are getting married!!!, and I think Shannon is even gone! So that left me, Scott, and Angie to tend to the fish. It seemed like EVERYTHING needed to be fed today too. I feel like I worked my butt off today! Angie worked with all the fish here on land... Scott and I were out on the water.

Like last week, Scott and I fed the chum. They have to be fed 6 times a day so we fed them first thing, then we "pulled some nets." The nets get pretty gunky with algae and if the holes in the nets get blocked, the water can't get through to give the fish fresh water. So we pulled up the net on one side so the algae part is out of the water and so it can dry. Then it is dropped back into the water block-free tomorrow. Well we did 5 nets... then it was time to feed again... then we did 5 more. It's hard work... the nets are heavy and wet and slimy with algae. From pinching the nets to hard with my fingers, if I press on my fingernails, it hurts. Ever do anything where the tips of your fingers hurt? It's weird. As we came in for lunch after the 3rd feeding, I noticed the backs of my arms were green from playing in algae. :-D The smell of the algae reminded me of my clam-raising project in college. We fed them algae and it's that exact smell.

So after lunch, we fed the chum, then came back and loaded these contraptions onto Scott's boat and over to the Chinook pens. Feeders... Food Shooters, if you will. :-) Last time I sort of talked about the chinook... because you all were wondering. And probably whatever I told you, I now realized was wrong. Today was the first time I've been to the chinook pens. There are only 10 net pens of fish... I thought they were the size of the Coho in the round ponds... 3-4 inches long. NOOO... These babies are big. Probably twice the size! 6-7 inches maybe... I had no idea! Scott said last October they were the same size as the Coho are now. These fish are going on 2 years old I believe. Anyhow, so I was ready to have my first experience feeding them... and then Scott tells me I am also going to have my first experience using the FOOD SHOOTER! I saw one of these things in motion when we took our tour of Medveije way back in February and it's pretty cool. You load food into this bin (we loaded 2 bags but you could probably load 3), start up the motor, point the tube and SHOOT! Air shoots the food out. It's pretty cool. And feeding the Chinook at the size they are is pretty cool too! They were jumpin out of the water all crazy... way more active than any of the smaller sized fish I've fed. If I would have had my camera, I would have taken a video.

Anyhow, once that was done, we headed back over to feed the chum, then right back to the Chinook pens to pull up a net there. Basically for the same reason.... however, since the chinook are larger, the holes in the net are larger too. Even though algae still gunks them up, Kelp (seaweed) claims residency on the nets! So before Branden left, he was pulling these nets up and replacing them with another net and then washing the net he pulled out. I haven't seen it done but this entails pulling the net up pretty high, then taking the other (clean) net and somehow moving it under the net that is in now. Then dropping that top net and pulling it out once that bottom net has been connected... can't let the fish escape. Hopefully that makes sense? So we pulled this net up and Scott said it really wasn't all that bad, but there was ALOT of kelp on it! Actually, we pulled it up so the kelp was out of the water and it looked sort of cool with all of it connected on there. Scott said it looked like it had grown hair. I want to take a picture but... who knows if I'll get out there tomorrow. We got that done and went right back over to the chum pens for the last feeding.

I'm BEAT! We were non-stop ALL DAY! But the weather was great... normally the mornings feel cold but it warms up. Not really this morning. I had my winter hat off before I had even finished feeding a few pens! The fleece pullover was off as soon as we started pulling up nets. It was nice to shed layers! The sleeves were rolled up almost all day... which is where I got some sun. It barely even looks burnt... just like I got some color. :-) It was a great day to be in Alaska!

On a side note, Dean will be leaving us. He told me last week that he took a job up in Kodiak, which is where he came from. Not sure what he'll be doing or why he's leaving, but there is a girl coming to replace him in a few days. She'll be down in Takatz with Adam and I probably starting Thursday. It'll be sad to see him go... he's taught me alot. I'm just sad they couldn't have found a young guy to replace him! ;-) he he he

SHOUT OUT OF THE DAY - To Steven... Happy Birthday in a few days bro! :-D


P.S. I'll probably post some pictures tomorrow.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

It's story time folks...

So I guess no one liked my Killer Whale story!??!?!?!?

Well here are some more...

Today was my day to work at the hatchery. I was assigned to feed chum with Scott (the boss). So the first feeding, we headed out on his boat and fed and then messed with some of the nets. But then a plane came so we hurried in so Scott could talk to whoever was on that plane. It ended up being some builders? who are going to build an apartment. So 2nd feeding time rolls around and Scott is still talking to them. He tells me he'll be just a minute... but then a few minutes later, he ends up saying that I can go ahead in the work skiff and he'll meet me there. Then he asks if I've ever driven the work skiff and I say "umm well no, but people have shown me how." So I tell him I think I can do it and well... I did. But it's a bit nerve wracking driving some boat you've never driven before... ALL BY YOURSELF. I haven't even driven the Takatz boat by myself! Well you might be thinking "well, you HAVE driven the Takatz boat before... what's the big deal about driving this other one?" Well the Takatz boat is alot nicer... you turn a key... it starts... drive it with the steering wheel. The work skiff isn't the same. I've been with Sarah when she's driven it and I know it's a bit temperamental. It "starts" with a pull cord... I say "starts" with quotes because it likes to give you a work out before it'll actually fire up! Then you sit in the back of the boat and use the lever on the motor to drive the boat. I know you guys can mentally picture a boat like that... like a little fishing boat. Well this thing is a bit long and it was a little hard to steer. And it's confusing to drive for ME because you want to go one way and you have to move the lever in the opposite direction of what you think. Well, it ended up stalling on me after moving about 5 feet... Then it ended up stalling on me right near the chum pens, so I just drifted to the pens and didn't have to worry about parking it, which was fine.

I guess it wasn't SO bad... maybe because I didn't have someone watching me do it so I didn't feel self conscious about screwing up or something. But then when it was time to come in for lunch, Scott drove his boat and I had the work skiff still. Which meant I had to PARK the boat in front of the boss. Now that's intimidating! I guess it wasn't completely horrible. I ended up being a little bit away from the dock but Scott pulled me in. But then I had to think to myself "ok... how do I turn this boat off again!?" Because I didn't HAVE to turn it off the first time... it stalled on me! And I wasn't going to ask because then I'd look like a moron! I got it though. :-D

Anyhow, that's the boat story for the day. Here's a wildlife story. I saw another bear today. Or maybe it was the same bear just in a different spot... who knows. It was pretty cool though. We were out on the chum pens and Scott pointed him out. He was just walking around up on the hill... don't worry, the bear and I were separated by a bunch of water. We watched him for a few minutes... he didn't seem to even see us.

Alright, we've got a boat story... and a bear story... how about a tourist story? Ok sorta... So after the 2nd feeding, Scott said he was going back in but that I should stayed to mess with some of the nets again. Well during that time, this big boat had come into the bay. Who knows what for... then I saw they lowered this little fishing boat to the water and someone was messing around on it. Well then that's about when Scott went in. So I'm messing with the nets and sort of watching this boat... then it goes back to the bigger boat, loads on 2 more people and they head over to the chum pens. I'm thinking "Oh great... I'm gonna have to talk to these people, whoever they are!" As they pull up, I say HI and the guy jokingly says he's from the Alaskan Hatchery Inspection Agency or something like that and we laugh. Then he says he's from Sitka, but the other two people are from Pennsylvania and they were just checkin things out. So they asked me some stuff about the pens and the fish... And I'm trying to BS my way through answering these questions. Thankfully I've gone to enough trade shows with my dad to know how to BS my way through answering questions while trying to sound like you really know what you're talking about! ;-) he he he Most of them I could answer but I did have to throw in the "Umm yeah I'm not sure... I'm new here!" statement. They asked to see the fish and I said sure, hoping that it WAS, in fact, ok! I couldn't see why not... I'm sure we get people who do this... wanna just see things. Then they left. I just thought it was sort of funny... the ONE day I'm out at the chum pens, some random tourist type folks come up and the NEW girl has to play a "tour guide" of sorts. Now that I think of it, Scott did ask me earlier on if we got any visitors... boats... down at Takatz.

Well...... those are my stories for the day. Sorry, no pictures. Today's weather was crap, with a side of CRAP. Rain... wind picking up in the afternoon. Probably in the mid 40s. The water temperature today was 4.9 degrees Celcius, which is about 41 degrees Fahrenheit around lunch time I think? BRRRR...

SHOUT OUT OF THE DAY - To Dad... thanks for teachin me to BS! ha ha

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Who needs Sea World!?

So I only have a few pictures for you guys but I have a REALLY cool story! But you'll have to wait a minute for that... :-) Like American Idol.... You'll hear the story... RIGHT AFTER THE COMMERCIAL BREAK.

I got to Takatz on Saturday night (the 7th) just in time to call Valerie and wish her a Happy 21st Booze-Day... *cough cough* I mean Birthday! ;-) Talked to her, Melissa and a friend, which was fun. ;-) he he Then the next day was Easter. It rained all day and was pretty gross so it wasn't all that eventful. Feeding in the rain isn't very much fun because 1) since we only feed once every hour and a half or so, we had to keep putting on and taking off our rain gear... and 2) since the fish are tiny now, the fish food is very fine and makes a nice PASTE on anything that is wet. MMMM... yummy! Just hope you don't have rain AND wind at the same time or you might discover a new face cleanser! eww

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HAPPY EASTER? And where did that big huge mountain go!? HA HA Yeah, as you can see, it was very foggy/cloudy... this is the view from my window.

Anyhow, Monday was nice again so Adam and I went out to pull up the Shrimp pots that he and Dean put out for the first time the other day. So we get to the pots which were in a different finger part of the bay. And I asked Adam if they were as deep as the crab pots (one was about 60 feet and the other was 160!) And he said deeper... like 4 times deeper. It took me a second and then I was like "whoa! Wait... they are like 500 feet down!" Adam - "umm about 580!" OH YEAH, by the way, we have to pull the pots up BY HAND! HA We ended up pulling it around with the boat... long explanation but eventually it came up. I was surprised to see the size of these shrimp but 1) apparently they were the medium sized ones... and 2) we actually got a bunch of smaller ones compared to times before.

As you can see below, they look quite large! Well after experiencing my first time of cleaning shrimp, I learned that really they are 1/2 head and 1/2 tail meat, which is the part you eat. By the way, you just kind of bend them and twist their heads off. Sorry if that creeps anyone out!

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Basket 'O Shrimp!

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This was one of the biggest ones we caught.... about as big as my hand. But remember, these are just the "medium" sized ones! As you can see, only about 1/2 of it's body is the meat that you actually eat...

That's essentially what the shrimp pot looks like. There were 2 of them on the long line that was in the water... basically stacked on top of each other.

*End of the proverbial Commercial and onto the story*

Well later that day, it was time for Adam to head to the hatchery and Dean to come out to Takatz. So like usual, we donned our NASA spacesuits (I'm going to have to get a picture of them one of these days... they are suits to keep us warm and I think keep us afloat if we go over the edge of the boat, like snowsuits. Dean's is all orange and looks just like a NASA suit!) Well since I'm learning the ways of the boat, I drove. Let's just say I had my first WHITE KNUCKLE BOAT RIDE! Dean said the seas were probably 3-5 feet, which is kind of pathetic! But since I've only been driving a boat for about a week, I was completely frazzled when Adam and I made it back to the hatchery. It's like driving on a Michigan winter day after you've been driving for A WEEK! Pathetic part is that Chatham Strait can get much worse than that and most likely WILL. EKK... makes me nervous.

SOOO... Dean and I had to make our way back to Takatz but I was glad to let Dean drive. Even though I need experience in that kind of seas, I think one trip was enough for me for one day! I just wanted to HOLD ON and let the experienced one drive us back. So that's what I did. Well on the way back, he points out into the water and said there were porpoises or something out there... he could just see the fin. And I saw them too but actually I thought it was just waves making whitecaps over a rock or something. So I kept watching, hoping to catch a glimpse of what it was, when right then, a KILLER WHALE came out of the water!


I couldn't believe it! A KILLER WHALE! I only saw that one come out of the water but you could see there was a whole pod of them... maybe 6 or more. I mean, he didn't SEA WORLD jump out of the water, but he came up so I could see about a 1/3 of his body.

Maybe like that much or so... no I obviously didn't take THIS picture.

Well I turned to Dean and said "OH MY GOD IT IS A KILLER WHALE!" really excitedly! Probably the kind of excitement that would be in your voice if you saw your favorite celebrity walking down the street! It completely made my WHOLE trip to Alaska worthwhile... definitely one of the coolest things I have EVER seen in my whole life! Like a 100 feet away.... a real killer whale. AWESOME! I had to call people and tell em!

Well that's my story... the past two days were really nice at Takatz, especially today. We've been trying to mort some of the pens which includes a loooong 2 inch piece of pvc and air from a scuba tank which somehow sucks the nasty dead stuff off the bottom of the net pens. A pleasant smell I tell ya! The most we have gotten so far has been about 22,500 dead fish roughly... We obviously can't count all that so we're estimating. I tried to count better how many pallets of food are there and I came up with about 90-95 pallets. That's alooooot of food. More and more avalanches can be heard everyday, which keeps us entertained. And it's ALMOST warm enough to keep us from having to turn on the oven/heater thing at night. First night, we left it on with the door opened a crack but we were both hot and the door kept creaking with the wind so that got closed at about 4:30am! So the second night we left it off and it got a bit chilly! One of those colds where you are alright as long as you don't move any skin out of your blankets! Thankfully Adam wakes up before me... I wasn't going to MOVE until I knew he had the thing lit and it had been running for a while! :-) That's why boys are handy! he he he

ANYHOW... so back at the hatchery. The seas were great and calm today so I drove at peace!

OH, Mom told me to talk about this a little..... I've talked mostly about the chum salmon but there was questions about the others. I basically only work with the chum but we do also raise chinook and coho salmon, but they are smaller projects. While we have about 90 million or so chum, there are only about a few million coho and maybe less chinook. I'm not exactly sure of the numbers. I sometimes still get confused about which fish are the chinook and which are the coho! I know the round ponds out front, which I mort and feed sometimes, are coho that will get released this year. There are some chinook of the same size out in some saltwater pens. There's another set of pens out there that, honestly, I'm not even sure what they are! HA But yes, we raise those 3.

Also, I know when I was talking on speaker phone to the family on Easter Sunday, a question arose about crab pots. They weren't sure what a crab pot really looked like... well these are the two pots that we use.

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This is the pot that we put in the 160 ft. deep water. I'm not sure if there is a specific reason it goes for that depth though... You put some bait inside... a dead fish... and they crawl inside.

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This is the other pot. I guess it's hard to really see it but it's about a foot wide. Put some bait inside and the crab climb in through the little gates on the sides (you can see them if you look close). They can climb in, but they can't get back out.

If you guys have any other questions, PLEASE email or comment or something! I know alot of this stuff may sound confusing or weird so let me know!! Or if you DO want me to talk about something, I will. :-D

SHOUT OUT OF THE DAY - I'm going to go with Melissa today.... Thanks for letting me talk to someone on Saturday. HE HE HE Even though I said that I didn't really want to cause I wasn't sure WHAT to say... THANKS. It went better than I thought. *girly giggle* Alright, no one is allowed to comment on what I just mentioned! HA HA

Friday, April 6, 2007

To Takatz and back

Man, it's been almost a week since my last blog. I apologize to my faithful readers! All.... 5 of you!? I was away for 4 of those days anyhow....

Sunday morning I left for Takatz on the boat with one of the fish transfers. After the transfer, Dean switched out with me and I stayed with Adam, where he showed me "the ropes." They ended up finishing all of the fish transfers that day too. Anyhow, as soon as the boat left, Adam turned to me and said "we have 45 minutes until the next feeding... you can go inside and get settled." That first day was a tad busier than the next 3 just because of the transfers but the next 3 days went something like this....

8 am - take bags of food out to the pens and give them their first feeding of the day...
8:30 am - first feeding complete... go inside and do nothing...
10 am - 2nd feeding...
10:10 am - second feeding complete... go inside and do nothing...
11:30 am - 3rd feeding...
11:40 am - third feeding complete... start thinking about lunch...

And that pattern continued... 7 feedings a day... 1 pm, 2:15 pm, 3:30 pm, 4:45 pm... done for the day.

Right now since the fish are small and not eating that much, there is ALOT of downtime! It only takes about 10 minutes to feed (with both people working on their 7 pens on one side) By the way, before I said there were 16 pens, 8 on each side. I lied... there's only 14 pens. The chum pens here at the hatchery have 16 pens. The second day I was there, we had to compete with some iced over water... it wasn't completely frozen over but there were chunks of ice. So Adam hopped in the boat and played around so that he could create waves and try to break it up. Still there was a bunch of ice so it made feeding a little harder because the food doesn't SINK... so we took a long rope and dragged it along the water so try to get the food down. The ice eventually melted. The days I was down there the weather was really great! Though it was cold in the morning, when the sun finally came overhead, it warmed things up.

ANYHOW, I've read alot... listened to alot of Sirius sattelite radio... played a few games of Skip-Bo... watched a few movies... You tend to head to bed a bit early also!

Now the INTERESTING things about the site...

*** No running water... We are getting water from a jug... like a 5 gallon container with a spigot (sp?) Then we refill it with water we have in some buckets. Adam said they collect rain water to use but it hasn't been raining lately (It is right now though!) so we've been getting buckets of water from the hatchery. We also found a little stream that we could use if water gets low that is just across the bay. Anyhow, water supply IS limited so that means no showers... I had to go 4 days, but Adam went probably 8 or 9 before he could get back. It wasn't SO bad but my hair wasn't very pleasant! :-D

The toilet is run on saltwater so it sucks up the water from outside. It's a pain though because it fills up pretty slow.

With the limited water supply, that means we don't really wash the dishes too often. When it was time to eat lunch my first day, I asked which plate was clean and Adam was like "Wellll.... we haven't done dishes (they had been there for like a week)..." So we resort to wiping it with a paper towel and maybe using a little water if it needs it. Anyone who had OCD wouldn't definately NOT survive in this place! he he he

*** Power... the power is from a generator, but we don't have the generator on during the day. The lights are on battery power though... but we never need them during the day really anyhow, except for the bathroom light. So if we want to watch movies on our laptops, we have to use the laptop battery (until it dies...). We usually watch movies at night though and we turn on the generator.

*** Heat... the heat source is a stove that uses diesel. It works pretty good unless it is windy. And when it is windy (like the first day I was there and the few days before I got there) sometimes the wind tends to put the flame out by blowing in the exhaust tube. That then blows the fumes inside and it's not too pleasant! It wasn't SO bad but that first day, you could smell the fumes. Adam warned me that it could be a cold night cause if the wind was too bad, 1) it might just blow the fire out! and 2) the fumes could just be bad so he might just turn it off anyhow. So I got prepared and put on alot of clothes and blankets but ended up kicking it all off cause I was hot! Everything ended up being fine.

*** Avalanches... this is the COOL part! Though we haven't actually SEEN any yet, you can always hear avalanches from the surrounding mountains! Sounds just like thunder. I'm waiting for the day that all of the snow on the big mountain comes down because the sun's been out and it's been warm, but Dean said that it was probably REALLY icy and hard from it melting during the day and then freezing again at night, which is true. So maybe that will be the LAST snow to go. But in the meantime, it's pretty interesting to just HEAR them.

*** Boats... well I am learning how to drive the boat. I can't remember if it was the first or second day but Adam taught me how. I'm still trying to get used to it and still fret that I'm going to crash the boat when I come in to park but it hasn't been TOO bad yet. One of the days even, Adam and I had just come back from somewhere (I'll mention where in a second) and I parked the boat SO good and he goes "Geez... you take the boat out while I was sleeping!?" :-D I've driven the boat to the hatchery a few times (which is about a 15-20 minute boat ride on a good day) for the person exchange (as in me going into the hatch and Adam returning to Takatz)

*** CRABBBBBBB... Takatz Bay is loaded with Crab. A few different kind... we have a few crab pots set in the bay and that's where my first boat driving experience was to. Lemme tell ya! Pulling up a heavy crab pot that is 160 feet down will wear ya out! One person can't do it on their own. The other pot is 60 feet down maybe? Anyhow, we caught a ton of crab in the one pot but they were all pretty small so we tossed them back.

Anyhow, I can't really think of anything else to say. I do like Takatz even though it SOUNDS bad! It's kind of fun... it reminds me of camping. I have a few pictures for you now...

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Standing on the back deck, this is the view. Nice right!? Anyhow, the bags that you see at each pen... that is 20 kilos of food (44 pounds). Though they are eating a bit more now, at the time each pen was eating 20 kilos of food a day. (By the way, it was afternoon and we had already fed out a bag between the pens.)

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This is the view when I look to my side. Behind that mountain is where we keep hearing all of the avalanches.

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FOOD FOOD FOOD! Lots of fish food! I should have estimated how many pallets of food are in there. Maybe like 80 or more... not too sure. Each has 30 bags of food I think....?

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SHOUT OUT OF THE DAY - To Valerie... since I probably won't post tomorrow. HAPPY 21st BIRTHDAY!! I wish I was there to celebrate with ya but we'll make up for that when I return! ;-)

Alright, I am going to go frost the Easter cupcakes that I made for everyone! I am off tomorrow too but will probably be heading back to Takatz around 5 tomorrow (Saturday) unless the wind is too bad. Right now it's currently raining it there's no tomorrow!!