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...

Sunday, May 25, 2008

60s are the new 80s!

Happy Memorial Day Weekend! Though we don't really get tomorrow off like everyone else.

Anyhow, not much going on this past week. Our fish didn't grow real well this week and we don't really know why... we had nice weather! We made a trip to Baranof Warm Springs this week and hung out in the tubs instead of the natural pools. They pump water into these livestock watering troughs (that's what it looks like atleast!) Adam went fishing up at the Baranof Lake too. Wednesday we were sort of bored so we decided to make a trip back to the hatchery to possibly catch dinner and just to do whatever... no fresh dinner that night. The next day it was so nice that after work, Adam went out fishing and I...... layed out on the deck... IN MY BATHING SUIT! I tell ya... 60 degrees is the new 80s!

Now we're back at the hatchery (and about to leave back to Takatz actually). We had the best weekend possible! Couldn't have asked for any better weather! Sunny skies and warm temperatures. Yesterday and today, Adam spent walking from the porch to the dock and back patrolling for King Salmon. And yesterday he caught the first two King Salmon of the season... and of course that's what we ate for dinner! I layed out on the grass and read in shorts... yes... shorts! Last year I wore shorts only once and that was in August... this year is shaping up to be a possibly decent summer. Today no fish were caught but they were seen.

This morning right when we got up, we had a bit of excitement. Well it was exciting for me... because of my love/hate relationship with bears. There was a mother and cub eating some grass close to the weir so we watched them for a few minutes. Then I went to do something and Adam said "Oh the cub's crossing the weir... and she's letting it." Talking about the mother. Then both bears come walking across the weir toward the hatchery side. There's a net fence right there so once they got far enough, they crossed over that to walk right in front of the house. I got all excited and told Adam to get the camera. Of course, I didn't want to get too close so I was watching from the window but Adam took the camera and went outside onto the deck. Last time we did that, with the mother and three cubs, she wasn't too excited about it and tried to scare us away (and it worked for me!) So I didn't want to get too close even though the deck was seperating us. But once they saw Adam, she and her cub started walking faster to get away. Once they were all the way under the deck walking away I went out the back door and watched them. It's amazing sometimes getting really close to something so big and powerful. She wasn't a real big mother bear and her cub was probably half her size, but the cub probably weighed the same as I did. It's just sort of cool to look them in the face that close up. Even though we were fairly safe, I still had a crazy nervous energy going through me... and I was all excited and shaking afterward. Adam did get a few pictures but no real face shots... There was probably weeds in the way when you could see the front of them. Just bear butts really...




Well that's my cool story of the week. I hope it even made sense... sorta confusing to talk about unless you see right where they were. Anyhow, time to head out. Don't forget to let me know about the "Catch of the Day" orders!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

The Official Return of the Porch Salmon

Happy Beautiful Sunday! And I mean that... it's nice here today!

I don't have much to tell this week really.... hasn't been THAT eventful. We had some rain this week, which makes things a bit on the BLAH side. Tuesday was sampling day and our fish grew better than we thought, which is always a plus! Everyday we are netting alot of dead fish off the top because well.... they're dying obviously. But they are just really tiny fish that just never grew. Dan has been having alot of die-off issues with his Hidden Falls chum so Thursday Adam got dive tanks to use with our mort sucker. Though Dan has pulled out ALOT of dead from the bottom, we didn't really get much of anything.... except alot of extremely foul-smelling fish poop and liquid! Friday was a busy day of feeding 4 times a day, morting the tops of the pens with the dip net, morting the bottoms with that mort sucker, and trying to get all of our nets dropped to the deck like we did last year. We were on the go ALL day but we managed to get it all done... and in the rain!

So it was nice to come back to the hatchery and have our weekend on Friday, but it was a very wet ride back. Despite being tired from the week, my night was spent freaking out in front of the computer until I finally gave up at 11:15pm. Last weekend I was looking into flight to come home and the prices weren't exactly great. But I figured out what I'd do and I was planning on booking my ticket this weekend. Friday, however, didn't go as smoothly as I thought it would. I kept running into alot of issues with stuff being sold out or the price jumping up! Finally I had settled on a ticket to Midway airport (even though I had previously decided to pay a little more to get closer to home) But it was the cheapest flight I found at a cheap $653 so I went ahead and tried to book. Note the TRIED! I had literally pushed the purchase button but on the next page it told me that flight was gone or something and the price was now $900 something! WHATTTTT!? NO... That's when I pretty much gave up. I looked at a few other things, such as Adam's flight stuff just to see if it was just me who would have issues. Then I went to bed.

Next day, I talked to Adam about my airline-induced headache I was having the night before... his flight stuff seemed fine still. I still don't know what the deal was. Apparently alot of people were flying to Chicago at the same time I wanted to!? So he booked his flight... then I looked on the same website he did and just found a flight... close to home... but costing a tad bit more than Adam's ticket! However that works out...!? I just didn't want to deal with it anymore... Adam's flights had a 5-ish hour and 7 hour layovers in Seattle so I said "Hey, might as well keep you company." So we both have the same flight from Sitka to Seattle and Seattle to Sitka on the way back. So you can expect me home July 4th... hopefully WITH my luggage! I'm stayin until July 15th.

Anyhow, that's one of the announcements. 2nd announcement... Today, Adam has spotted the official return of the season's King Salmon. He's been out standing on the porch looking at the water and finally spotted a few swimming in. It's a surprise he didn't fall running down to the water IN FLIP FLOPS with his fishing pole. Like a little kid on his birthday, I tell ya! But that makes me happy too.... fresh salmon! YAY.

Well, we got a new girl this week.... Lexie. Anna is leaving this coming week too. Our chum should be large enough and ready for release in a few weeks. Probably about the first week of June, just like last year. Then we'll be back and forth to the hatchery with dirty ol chum nets... then back at the hatchery period. So in the coming month, we'll be washing and mending nets and setting up incubation and the spawning shed for spawning season. Then we'll head off for vacation and return with spawning season not far off. Where does the time go!?

Alright, guess that's about all for now. Sorry, no pictures this week. Congrats to Dad and Lee for their remarrying shindig yesterday! I was there in picture and spirit! :-)

Sunday, May 11, 2008

The Attack of the Buzzing Birds

Back for another week.... sorry for the lack of postings and pictures lately. But I have some this week.

There really hasn't been all that much going on. The Takatz chum are growing... slowly. They're a little bit smaller than they were last year at this time. There has been a type of plankton in the water that is spikey and nasty looking through the microscope, but it gets into the fishs' gills when they eat and irritates them. Thus making the fish not want to really eat. But they are eating and we think it's getting better but we are still finding that stuff in the water. Not much you can really do though. I was just trying to find a picture of what these things look like but I can't find one. SO, imagine a center point with a bunch of long spikes radiating off of it in all directions. They are fairly simple looking but can look pretty nasty! Anyhow, so the fish are up to about a gram a piece, and we release them when they are about 2 grams so we have a ways to go yet.

We really haven't been dealing much with the weather being bad, which is nice but apparently tomorrow is supposed to be really gross. Speaking of gross stuff... we've been dealing with another element! Fish poop! HUH? Alot of the poop from the fish just gets washed out of the nets, but alot just sinks to the bottom. Unfortunately, lately something has been causing these "poop balls," if you will, to float up to the surface. Sometimes it's just small chunks but sometimes it's small ISLANDS!


I know this is a fairly gross topic to be talking about but hey, you wanted to know about all elements of my job, right!? Unfortunately this one happened at about 9pm, right after we had eaten dinner. I know you can't get the full effect of it just by this little picture. And it doesn't really even look that big. But you should probably be thankful this isn't Smell-O-Vision! You've all changed a nasty baby diaper right!? Times that by 100. We tried to just drop down the net and float it out, which worked but then we tried to get the thing to sink. Anyhow, nasty nasty stuff! :-)

Now onto a more cheerful subject, last week my brand new hummingbird feeder arrived and we filled it and put it up as soon as we got back to Takatz. The week before we had a cute little red hummingbird always buzzing around. Unfortunately, it trapped itself in the rafters of the warehouse downstairs and couldn't figure out how to get out. It wore itself out so much that Adam ended up netting it with one of the fish nets and releasing it outside, where it flew away, but we didn't see it again. :-( It probably died. BUT, since the feeder has been up we've had about 3 new ones CONSTANTLY around. There are 3 brown and red ones and 1 brown and green one that we see only randomly. But are they ever NUTS! Those 3 that are always around have gone through 16 oz. of liquid in only like 5 days! I'm sure it's mating time and probably that, mixed with them being jacked on sugar water, makes some amusing birds always buzzing around. You can stand right next to the feeder and they aren't scared to come up, which makes for some good photography. They are just really funny to watch too... they will chase another bird away if they are drinking at the feeder. They try to scare them away by fanning out their tail and then they just buzz after them. It's funny. Anyhow, here are some pictures.

This picture is really cool bigger so blow it up. I was super excited to catch two of them at the same time... Checking each other out.

I was MORE proud of this picture though. It is the clearest picture! I was amazed. The bird's neck doesn't show how interesting the colors change and reflect red and yellow but it's really pretty.

This is a close up of the bird from that last picture. The wings look transparent because they are beating so fast.

Now you can see the neck colors better, even though it's blurry. The neck looks red but it can move just slightly and it looks like it changes colors. It's awesome!

Coming IN!!!

So that's been my amusement for the week really. Last week, my amusement was something Adam showed me at night. You maybe have heard of this, but there are some types of plankton that are bioluminescent. This means that at night, it's like they glow in the dark almost. We walked out there and it almost looks like there are fireflies in the water. Random green dots flashing. But then he took a net and ran it through the water and the water lite up with green. I've heard of this before but I've never seen it and it was awesome! He said it's really cool if you take the boat out, because the water from the prop is just a trail of green. It's a pretty neat thing to see.

Well I have a few random pictures now....

This is just a cool picture I took while watching the hummingbirds. Some rain coming down not far from the house. This was around 5:30pm.

This was a cute little starfish we pulled up in one of the crab pots. I wish I could figure out a way to preserve them and them looking exactly the same. This one was pretty cool.

Well, I guess that's the wrap-up for the week. Except a few things. Friday we pulled up our first King Crab of the season. YAY! We weren't even sure if they were legal right now though. I'm trying to figure out my vacation time right now... at this point, I'm pretty sure it's going to be the first few weeks of July. So save the dates! ;-) I'm thinking I'll be home the 4th until the 15th... maybe.

Alright, I better get going. It's almost 3... I have a shower to take, stuff to pack up for Takatz, and I have two batches of fabulous brownies to make. Yesterday was Anna's birthday so that's one batch... the other is for us of course! :-) Oh, Andy and Anna are calling it quits. Actually Andy left last week and Anna will be out next week or so. But a few weeks ago we got a new guy and this Wednesday a new girl is coming in. OK, catch ya later!

SHOUT OUT OF THE WEEK - To Mom, Lee, Grandma Czuba, and Grandma Moser, HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY! And to all you other mothers that read this, same to you! And to Steven, shout out to you! You know why! :-)

P.S. Mom, pet my two babies for me! It's hard to be a mother away from her two furry babies!