Sunday, December 20, 2009

And now for some photos…

So being my typical self I forgot my CF card reader at home in Ohio. It was a $25 dollar mistake, but if that is the only thing I forgot then I am felling pretty good.

Apparently I didn’t have as many photos as I originally thought. so there are not many but they are pretty cool.

The view from the back window of the training center.

Different windw from the training center. This is High Noon and it is around 1600.

One of the few clear days we have had, it is around 1600 in this photo. Again this is from the back window of the training center.

The tree is covered in frost that happened from a fog that rolled in, I had never seen anything like it. You can see in the background the fog that was going on.

Common Raven. My roommate found this Raven in our garbage struggling to get out. It had somehow gotten hurt in the can and we tried to rehab it but unfortunately it did not make it. A sad day.

And I can't miss my chance to hold it either :)

So that is what I have so far. I promise to get more this week and of better quality. I am not leaving anywhere till Christmas eve so i plan on getting out and trying to get some photos.


Till next time

Saturday, December 19, 2009

I am Back!!!!

Hi everyone, I know that it looks like i have been sitting in the Seattle airport for about a month but those are only rumors. I finally have a bit of time to catch everyone up on what the heck I have been doing and what it is I will actually be doing for the next three or so months. So lets get to it.

I am now living in Anchorage Alaska (temporarily), while here i attended a three week training to be come a certified National Marine Fisheries, Groundfish Observer. What you ask is that? Great question. I am a representative of the National Marine Fishery Service (NMFS) and it is my duty to collect information from commercial fishing boats that operate in the Gulf of Alaska (GOA) and the Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands(BSAI) Fisheries. My job is to go out on to these vessels and to collect species composition data, Sex/Length/Weights, Otoliths (fish ear bones) and some other things. All of this data is used in real time or near real time to manage the north pacific ground fish. All of the rules are provided through the Magnuson-Stevens Act Revision 2006. Fishing vessels that wish to continue to fish (with some exceptions) are required to carry an Observer (that is me). It is going to be a very different job then i have ever had. I am excited about getting back to sea rough or not and I am still getting to do something with my hands outside (even when it is –40, ugh), so really it is going to be a great job.

My three week training was intense! In three weeks I learned how to identify fish that could be found in the fisheries that I could work in, I also learned that my attention to detail (read as anal retentive) when filling out paper work finally paid off. Paperwork is the name of the game for this job, I have six types of forms, minimally, that i have to fill out for just one fishing vessel. doesn’t sound like a lot but one of those is a raw data form called a deck sheet and every time I sample I have to fill those out. Most of the time i will be filling out like four to five a sample with six samples a day giving me a grand total of 30 deck sheet a day. Lots of writing. We also learned a lot about random sampling and how it applies to real life situations. I can finally say that I am starting to grasp what they were trying to teach me in stats class so long ago.

This training I said was intense, and that is truly an understatement. classes started at 0800 every day and went till 1700. There is also the fact that I walked to training everyday which is a mile and a half each way. These were long days of going over the manual, going over homework, Fish ID labs and test taking. The pressure is high due to the fact that if you don’t do the homework or fail any test, which is anything below an 80%, you were dropped from the program. Unfortunately we lost two people during the course of training. We lost one after the first test and one because of homework. Homework, this is not your average everyday run of the mill homework, most of the time it would take four to five hours to complete the written part filling out the various forms that we use. Even when you were done with that you still have a few hours of reading every night with reading questions. it was insane! Thankfully I did my work every night when I got home, after the briefest of conversations with my wife. Sorry they were so short baby.

The best day of training was our survival training. It was a whole day dedicated to what to do during emergencies at sea and what we should do to survive should an accident happen at sea. the biggest part was us at  the pool donning our immersion suits and getting into the pool and boarding the survival raft. the immersion suit, also called a Gumby suit, is the one piece of survival equipment that will hopefully save our lives if we have to abandon ship. they taught us different was to link up in the water so we could stay together, how to turn over our raft should it flip and how to get into the basket that the Coast Guard uses. We also learn how to throw life rings and life slings to a person who might have fallen overboard. here is a picture of me in my survival suit.

2009-12-15 14.37.34

2009-12-15 14.38.05

It was a welcome break form the rigors of class.

I am happy to say that I successfully passed the class!!!!  It was such a relief to see my final grade (93%) on my final exam. So now I am an official North Pacific Groundfish observer.

So the next steps, first I will be getting a physical on Monday. Apparently they need to make sure i am breathing before heading out to sea. From what the Priors (the people who have had contracts before) tell me it is a joke. After the physical on Monday the plan is to fly out to Dutch Harbor on Christmas Eve and then board my boat on the 26th. the current plan is for me to be on board a Longline vessel for my entire contract which should take me to March of next year.

What else has been going on…

Not much to be honest. I have been getting used to the time difference between Ohio and here, I always have to remind my self that Gina and the kids day is pretty much over by the time I get home from training. I have also been getting used to the short ‘daylight’ hours here. Not really much daylight but a brightening of the sky really. The COLD is something else that I am becoming accustomed to as well. Last night was our coldest night since i have been here (-7) but I have slowly gotten used to the fact that everything here is cold and covered in snow.

I have also seen two birds here that made my life list the Black-billed Magpie and the Bohemian Waxwing.

Black-billed Magpie

Bohemian Waxwings

last night I went out to purchase my work gear. I will have photos later to show everyone.

You might notice that the photos are not of my usual quality, they are from my phone and they are good for what they are. I was sitting down today to start blogging when i realized that i had forgotten my card reader in Ohio and i didn’t have a cable to connect my camera to the computer. If that is the only thing i forgot at home then I am ahead of the game. I plan on heading out to WallyWorld today or tomorrow to get a new one and some other odds and ends that i still need.

I will post more later.

and so we go…

Friday, November 27, 2009

Sitting in Seattle

The first leg is behind me and I have one more to go. The first flight out of Cincinnati was fine, I must say however that I am sad to see the free meal go the way of the dinosaur. It also saddens me to see that it now costs for luggage to go with you. $20 with Delta. Not really sure why, I can ‘carry on’ my luggage as long as i am not traveling for more then a weekend. 

I go tot watch a cute movie on the flight, “(500) Days of Summer”. good indy film the lead actress also played Dorothy in the SyFy “Tin Man”.

Food also costs unless you are a first class passenger then it is included. I am not first class I don’t even think that i am third class. I will send something out when I land in Anchorage.

Here is a photo of me sitting across from my gate. AHHH, I have a huge head...a pic from my new phone.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Eve of departure

This is it… I am as ready as I will ever get, the bags are packed, the lists have been double checked and I am still not sure I have enough.

Whew, I am ready. I have a good friend who spent the time on a greatly detailed list of what I needed for being an observer. So a huge shot out to Jennifer!!! WOOT!

I leave tomorrow for Anchorage, AK via Seattle. I am very excited about this next adventure. It is going to be HARD, DIRTY work. I have not had to work like this for a very long time. I think this could be a very rewarding job.

I have no idea where I will end up, my guess will be Dutch Harbor but I will let everyone know what it is when i get there.

Also I have Verizon as my cell phone carrier now so I should have service, probably spotty, in Anchorage and maybe Dutch Harbor.

I will keep you all up to date via my blog.

And so we go…

Thursday, November 5, 2009

It is official!!!!

I am now an employee of TechSea International. I will be leaving on 27th or 28th of this month to start the next adventure of my life.


Man I can’t believe this is happening, when I leave i leave for four months and live in Alaska… What the Hell am I thinking.

So a Low down on what I will be doing. I will be working for the company Tech Sea International. I will be employed as an Alaskan Ground Fish Observer. I will randomly sample the takes and run some stats on the by-catch and determine if everything is with in standards. If i am put on a large processing boat I could be out for two months. If I am out on the smaller boats I will be in and out quite a bit. As soon as I get up there I will start photo graphing avery thing and documenting everything as well.

I am not sure what to expect as far as internet goes but I will update you all as often as I can. I will also be switching cell phone providers so that when I am in port I can call home so, keep your fingers crossed, I might be in phone contact at a minimum.

On last thing, I will get to check something on my bucket list, See the Northern Lights. I am very excited about that.

and so we go… Until next time friends.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Remsa INC. My Job


I know this is a little late in posting, especially since I am home now. I did want to have a more full accounting of what happened while I was in NC, I have not changed anything from this posting from when I originally wrote it, enjoy…

Well everyone, It has been some time since I have posted and thought I would catch you all up on what has been happening and what might be happening in the future. So here we go…

How I got here:

The Wednesday before I was to leave for home, with out a job, my roommate’s wife came to me and said there was an immediate opening in North Carolina as a turtle observer. All I had to do was send the hiring lady my resume tweaked for turtles. I called Roxy, the hiring lady, and we talked about my limited experience with turtles and after a few back phone calls and emails I was hired. This all took place in a matter of a few hours. Suddenly I had a job that I had to leave for immediately. I went home that day and started packing to leave the next morning. The next day I made it to D.C. for a short stopover to catch a few winks and continued on. At 1300 I reached Nags Head and tried to catch a few winks before I had to go to work.

Where I am:

I am in Nags Head NC. working as a turtle observer. The hours are from sunset to sunrise, sort of. It took a while to get on a schedule since I was working days for the past four months. Once I got on a schedule this job is super easy and super boring. We sit in what is called the dump shackThe Dump Shack, Me on the left and James, a Great Lakes Dredge and Dock employee.

The dump shack can also be called the smoke shack, My clothes stink like I am a smoker again. they also have a faint tinge of diesel to it, in other words I reak of nastyness. My job for this contract requires me to be on the beach for the entire night. we have to conduct three beach surveys every night to ensure there are no impacted turtles by the dredging operations. The rest of my time is spent in the dumpshack sitting around doing NOTHING! It is BORING to the extreme. recently I started bringing my laptop out to the site so I can watch movies. Mark and I head over to the survey shack, looks a lot like the dunpshack only no smoking and much cleaner, and watch movies between our surveys. makes time go much faster. We also take naps occasionally, usually during the movies. We are done only when the last pipe is removed off the beach. There is only one piece of pipe left on the beach but it is a HUGE piece and requires a cap that is not on site. once that is put on and the pipe is removed I will be done. I have been coming out to this site for three days now and have done nothing but sit in the shack and walk out to the pipe and verify that there are no turtles there. It takes about 30 minutes to complete and then there is nothing to do, except go fishing. I have been fishing fo rthe past three nights. I have caught a skate, blue fish, a whiting and a black drum.

What is on the horizon:

I got an e-mail from one of the ground observers i applied to and it looks like that is in the front runners of job possibilities. pretty much it is the only front runner so it looks like i am going to head out to Alaska for the next job. The best thing about the ground observer job is the pay. it pays $135-160 a day regardless of if i am on a boat or not. so it is great pay. I am sad that I have not heard anything from some of the other jobs that I have applied to, I really wanted to have a job working with birds but I need to pay the bills and this job has the potential of doing just that.

Well that is all i have for now, I will leave you with some photos from around the work site and a couple of videos

And so we go…

This is Mark my co-worker

Me at the work site. I watned the backlighting but the glare spot could go away.

This how they moved the pip around the beach. The piece of equipment is called a loader.

A dozer used to move the sand around the beach. the specs that you see here is the flying sand that was a constent irritent during my first week here.

the inside of the dump shack, yes that is me and the expression is bordem

Friday, October 9, 2009

I have arrived

I am in Nags Head, NC. I start work tonight at 1900 and am done tomorrow at 0600...I will be dragging ass tomorrow morning.

I am so excited, this is going to be a terribly boring job but I am excited for the fact that I am here. I am overjoyed that I have a Wife cool enough to let me do something like this. Thank you Regina!!!!!

So the job is a night turtle survey contract job. Not sure how long it will last it could be 7 days it could be a month. I am working with a Guy his name is Mark whe is a turtle guy and I am a bird guy. He is a former Marine I am retired Navy...this should be interesting. He is a nice guy I am looking forward to this job for the experience it is going to give me.

I am on a public server that I can hit when ever I want but It is about 3 miles from the apartment, which I have to drive :( So i don't have my own personal internet or a phone...

I thought my cell phone was going to work here but unfortunately it does not! grrrr! I am thinking about geting new service that is more nationwide just so I can talk to Regina and the kids when i just won't have unlimited everything.

Ok I am starting to ramble so I am going to hit the road I have to go buy some bread chips and apples for 'lunch'.

And so we go....

Damn DC is expensive

So I finally left yesterday morning for the next leg of this adventure. I left Bar Harbor at 0700 and motored on down the road. I made it to D.C. for the evening around 2100. I stayed the night at a Best Western. $94 dollars later and a huge breakfast I am just about ready to motor on out again. I am writing to you from the lobby of the Best Western.

I talked to my new co-worker Mark. He is from Texas and loves to fish. I will get more information when I get in to Nags Head tonight.

And so we go...

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

So I was mistaken

Well I haven't even finished this adventure and the next one has started. I will NOT be coming home as planned. I just accepted a posistion in Nags Head, NC. I will be walking a beach everynight to watch for nesting sea turtles. I will get everyone up to date as soon as I can with what is going.

I Leave tomorrow morning at 0600 and will hopefully make it to Nags head tomorrow night and start my job. WOOHOOO!!!

Not sure how long this will last 1-3 weeks for right now. I will hopefully be home sometime at the end of October! I really need to reconnect with my family, School and friends.

Love to all

And so we go...

Sunday, October 4, 2009

My last post from Acadia

Wow I can’t believe that this part of the journey is just about over. Time here has flown faster the a Peregrine Falcon chasing a Wilson’s Warbler for dinner. So I have thought about what I want to write for my last post from Acadia. I have not come up with anything, so what i am going to do is write about my last few weeks here like I normally would. I am going to ask for comments at the end, I want to hear from those who read my blog and see what it is that they remember from my time here. I can then maybe elaborate on some things that I may have glossed over or things i didn’t explain well enough.  Hope this works out.

My life has become Beavers and Applications. Every day for the past few weeks My partner, Bik, and I have been out bush whacking through some ‘backcountry’ on the island. We are conducting a complete census of Mount Desert Island. We are following a census that was performed in 1997 and looking at how the population dynamics might have changed of the last dozen years. The worst part about this project is that it leaves you exhausted at the end of the day and feeling nasty. You have to wear chest waders while walking in these out of the way places. Chest waders have this unfortunate side effect of not breathing, so five minuets after you start walking you are pretty much soaked from chest to toes in your own sweat. by the end of a 6 hour day of doing this you feel pretty damn nasty. The up side to this is I have gotten to see some of the most beautiful areas of the park that no visitors will ever get to see. These beaver created ponds and lakes are incredibly beautiful. There was one recently that I approached that had a beaver swimming along quietly with a dozen wood ducks floating near by and a few mergansers further back. The sun was shining and there was no wind so the pond was as smooth as glass. I ended up sitting there for about half an hour just soaking it up. Unfortunately I do not have photos of any of these areas, they are difficult to reach and as such I don’t take anything that can’t get wet, let me explain why. There are some areas that we check and we don’t need the waders, however we don’t know that until you actually arrive. More often the not you are traipsing around marsh area that looks pretty solid tall grass low shrub/scrub. what you don’t see are the four to five foot deep channels that are hidden in these location. It makes walking a sport to be sure. Also hidden are sink holes that are created by the Beaver tunneling through the soft mud under the floating hummocks. It is pretty funny really, you will be walking around and focused on where you are headed and then suddenly you are buried up to you chest in water in the middle of a hidden channel. Your lucky when you don’t top your waders, it gets close a lot.

The other half of my life is applying to any job that I have even a little bit of qualification. I come home shower talk to Regina while i apply and then eat and then pass out from exhaustion. I am getting just a bit nervous now. I had hoped that I would have a few possibilities by now but so far the only call back I have had was from McFaddin NWR in Texas. I have heard nothing since that interview. I have seen little movement on the jobs through only two have been passed on to a real person. As far as the non-government jobs go, I have had one get back with me telling me that the job was filled but thank you for applying. Two other jobs told me that they had received my application and that I could expect to hear from them in November. Any jobs that I apply to now will not start until November or later. I have applied to three different ground observing companies in Alaska but the training doesn’t start until December and the contracts will start in January. I must say that if any of you have a job, even if you don’t like it, KEEP IT! It is a tough market out there right now. I base this on the fact that there are people applying for the traditional ‘Intern’ jobs that college kids apply for just out of school which makes it really tight.

Enough about that…it depresses me every time I think about it.

So other things that have happened since last time…

My friends Mo and Bernie came back to Bar Harbor for a wedding and stayed with us in our extra rooms. It was a great weekend. They brought there sister Mary, who, just like the rest of the family is pretty awesome. We caught back up and chatted and just had a great time visiting.

Yesterday I climbed the Precipice with my roommates, Adam and Jen, and Had a great climb. I was really proud of Jen because she is terrified of heights and she didn’t freak out once. She made the summit! Grats to you Jen.

The next time I write to you all I will be home, I can’t wait to get back and see my family. While I am home I plan on visiting Oxford a few time to get my final project done and hopefully graduate next year. It would be nice to finally say that I have graduated from school.

And so we go…


I would love to hear from everyone that has read, glanced at, or just visited once my blog. Let me hear what you thought was my biggest adventure, the funniest thing that occurred or ask some questions I will fill in any blanks that i might have left.

My next adventure will be driving home and my visit with the Fam.

Take care all!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Almost done ;(

So I have about three weeks left here in Maine…for the last two months I have been searching for that next adventure in my story. I have been sending out applications like they are going out of style. The farthest I have tried for a job was in the North Mariana Islands in the South Pacific. I have applications out to a permanent job in Florida working for a state park, Rusty Blackbird study in Mississippi. I have probably over 20 pending applications out in the government job system. So I am trying to find anything for right now. Some good news, I had a call today from McFaddin National Wildlife Refuge near Port Arthur, TX. I will keep everyone informed as to where I end up next for the continued adventures. I can guarantee that i will have about two weeks home before I leave off again.

In further news, I am still looking for a small point and shoot to use while i am out and about. Oh yeah so while I was on Petit Manan my long lens suddenly started working again. Not sure why but at least i don’t have to manual focus for a while.

Ok I am tired and am Migraine grumpy so I am going to sign off for now

Be well everyone

and so we go…

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Petit Manan Island National Wildlife Refuge (PMI)

I am still thinking about my time on PMI and am trying to think of a way to get back out there. I had the most fantastic time out there. It was peaceful and i got to band! so where is PMI from where I live? allow me to show you:


This is a close up of the island, it is not very big. I walke dthe perimeter of the island a few times just exploring.

So I was to meet Linda Welch the US FWS person at their office at 0800 and we were to head out from there. It takes just over an hour to get to Milbridge, ME from Bar Harbor, so I left at 0650 to make sure I got there in time. which I got there at 0800, nice timing I thought. When I arrived Linda was not there just yet so I looked around the office and got my float coat for the boat ride out to the island. Linda arrived shortly after I got there. I followed her to the boat launch and put my things onto the boat. The trip out to the island took about 30-40 minutes. When I arrived there was a crew out there painting the house and one scraping the boat house in preparation for painting. Jim, the boat operator, lead this crew until 1400 painting and scraping.

I met the two women working the island as the banders, first was Pam:

Pam with a Northern Flicker

and then there is Alison:

Alison with the Northern Flicker

When I arrived Pam and Alison were in the middle of their banding day. I started immediately with helping them on net runs and banding birds. It was good to take a bird out of the nets again. Today continued another project, shorebird banding. Apparently they had been trying different methods to capture shore birds for the avian influenza study. They had tried a large bow net contraption that apparently did not work, unless you consider a slow motion trap a success. I will see if i can get the video they took of the net closing. The mist net was a success, easy to set up, not too many birds so the pace was not hectic. typically they would set net up for passerine banding 30 minutes before sunrise and band for six hours and start the shorebird net no more then an hour before the end of passerine banding. this was also dependent on tides. In the photo above the rocks you see are all covered during high tide, what you see here is low tide. the reason for waiting till high tide is that at low tide all the birds are dispersed over a large area. At low tide they are concentrated in small areas and with the proper placement of the net you can capture quite a few birds in a single run. The first day we captured Least Sandpiper, Semipalmated Sandpiper and a Spotted Sandpiper. the Songbirds were much less exciting, Savannah Sparrows dominated the nets. there is a resident population on the island so the majority of birds captured were of the SAVS variety.

Savannah Sparrow

I went for a walk around the island after the events of the day to see what I could, here are a few images from my first day and my walk.

 Petit Manan Lighthouse, constructed in 1855

the FWS sign at the top of the boat ramp on the island

a bad image of a Spotted Sandpiper

Moon rise on my first night


Saturday was blur for me…I had a migraine and was not into anything that day. I took my pills and took a huge nap and woke up refreshed and ready to take on the night…ugh! I had to get up at 0450 the next day. Pam and Alison had made dinner that night and offered me some which was really nice because I was not in any mood to cook. Here are some images from Saturday, this is really the only way I kinda remember this day:

Moonset over Cadillac Mtn.

the boat ramp right outside the door of the boat house, which is where we band at

'Trail's' Flycatcher

Bald Eagle, Immature

Flying away

Semipalmated Plovers

Least Sandpiper

Pretty sure that this is a immature Yellow Warbler, someone correct me if i am wrong



Sunday we got up at our normal time but the winds were at a sustained 15 mph. So we sat around staring a one another trying to stay awake. So I sat and listened to my iPod, which at this point was dangerously low.

***just a side note, I wasn’t told much about the living conditions before i got there so didn’t expect much. when i arrived they told me that there was power, solar, and that if i needed to charge anything that I could with no problem…If i had known that i could have brought my laptop too… Oh well maybe next time.***

it wasn’t until 1000 that the winds had died off enough for us to open the nets. so we headed out and got net up by 1030 and started banding. We ended up having a great day. that is until i fell of the stupid boat ramp and got soaked…although that was kind fun too especially since I didn’t hurt myself. I also climbed up to the top of the light house this afternoon it was pretty amazing view, here are the photos I took Sunday:

Tennessee Warbler

Least Sandpiper

Lighthouse light

Boathouse from the top of the light house

The House. Starting from the house and moving clockwise, the pit toilet, the Destroy-let (a propane powered, incenerating toilet), the tool shed, the picnic table, the flag and finally the solar panels for the house. the light house has its own set of panels.

the light house at night, not too bad for handheld and a long exposure time :D

Monday was a copy of the other days, with out me falling into the ocean.  We did have quite the collection of shorebirds in the area:

  • Willet
  • Ruddy Turnstone
  • Sanderling
  • Semipalmated Plover
  • Semipalmated Sandpiper
  • Least Sandpiper
  • Spotted Sandpiper
  • Dowitcher
  • Black-bellied Plover

Here are the photos from Monday:

I say this in one of the photos but I thought of the Circle of Life song every morning, here is something for the next few pictures


Good Morning PMI!

Good Morning PMI Lighthouse!!!

For the entire weekend I kept singing the Lion King Theme song, you know the one.


Tuesday – The original plan was for me to get picked up early from the island and head back to the main land so I could go to work. Well at 0930 we got a phone call that said they would be out around 1330. Well there goes that plan…I did get to enjoy another full day of banding…of course I didn’t get back to MDI until 2030. Oops, Guess I am not going to work today, LoL.

these are the last days sunrise, we were so slow that I got a great series:

 20090908-IMG_2928 20090908-IMG_2930 20090908-IMG_2932 20090908-IMG_2934 20090908-IMG_2935 20090908-IMG_2937 20090908-IMG_2941 20090908-IMG_2943 20090908-IMG_2944 20090908-IMG_2946


and finally one thing that occurred the entire time I was there was a family of Peregrine falcons and a pair of Merlins kept harassing the shorebird population. the Peregrines were particularly vindictive, they would tail chase the birds until they almost had them and then break off from the chase. they would return several times a day and chase the flock. Kind of funny really. Well the Merlin landed one time and we took the time to stalk him and this is the best shot i could come up with:

Merlin, petit mananIsland

Well I have been sitting in fonrt of this computer all day. I am ready to relax now. Miss everyone, I have less then a month till I am home.


And so we go…