Anybody who’s worked on the water will tell you to always be on your toes, ready for anything the ocean, can throw at you. After leaving the Semichis we headed ever eastward to our next sampling station. After a day-long steam, and some much needed R&R we arrived on Kiska and immediately got to work. Like Attu, Kiska saw its fair share of action during the Second World War. Our serene anchorage in Kiska Harbor afforded us amazing views of the island, whose pock-marked hills bear the scars of battle.
The site selection and chamber set up on day one went without a hitch; by now this routine was second nature to us. During our first day a handful of us were even allowed to go ashore and check out some of the remnants from the bitter conflict all those years ago. We’re all eager to explore the reefs that ring these incredible islands, but walking through the tall tussock grass clinging to the rocky landscape provides a fresh perspective and invigorates us to no end. The air may be cold, and the water colder, but we all know just how luck we are to work here.
However, on the morning before our chamber recovery dive, life threw me a curveball. Working in, on and around the water has inherent risks which we do are best to be cognoscente of. But sometimes you pull a fast one on yourself without any help from outside sources. Just before I planned to get suited up for our dives, I managed to get a finger caught in a door and had to get pulled from the dive. Without much time to spare, the team went on without me, leaving me in the more than capable hands of the Oceanus’s second mate and medical officer.
After a successful chamber recovery, we stowed and stashed our gear and conducted the typical trawl surveys. After that we headed back to Adak, which took another 10 hours or so. We stopped on Adak just long enough for Scotty to pick up an experiment he had left running for the last two weeks, and for me to visit the medical clinic. Don’t get too excited, this is just a precaution; the risk of infection is high out here and no one wants to take any risks.
And, actually, visiting the clinic on Adak was a really great experience. To say that Adak is a ghost town is an over statement; only a handful of people live in a town of mostly abandoned buildings. The medical center opened early, just for me. My lab mate, Tristin, escorted me to the clinic, which is housed inside the all-in-one high school, post office and town hall. We were cheerfully greeted by two administrators, two nurses and a community health associate. This skeleton crew of healthcare professionals are responsible for providing take care of the few isolated communities scattered between Dutch Harbor and Attu. I knew I was in the best of hands when they immediately started joking and heckling me; these rough ladies laughed and joked with me while getting me “fixed up”. As it turns out, I managed to fracture as small part of my finger and give myself some pretty sever lacerations; I won’t be able to dive for the rest of the trip.
Now we're heading east to our next island; Atka. If this island rings a bell, it’s because we sampled Atka last year during our first cruise. However, last year we ran into some rough weather and, as luck would have it, we were given the opportunity to resample without jeopardizing this year’s cruise.
Stay tuned, as we head back to Atka for another round!
-Baron von Urchin
Pike Spector is currently a Research Operations Specialist with Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary