From: Haley Smith Kingsland, Stanford University
Dutch Harbor, Unalaska, June 14 — On Sunday morning, ICESCAPE scientists awoke halfway across the Aleutians in the town of Unalaska. “I went outside, looked up, and saw something that just didn’t register,” says co-chief scientist Don Perovich, of the U.S. Army Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory in New Hampshire. What he thought were crows were actually bald eagles swooping above him, cleaning fishermen’s nets.
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” Don muses. “Back home, if an eagle’s around it’s a big deal, but here there were 30 or 40 of them just flying around us.”
Photo by Karen Romano Young
Many ICESCAPE scientists marveled at the bald eagles as they waited to board the Healy, docked in Unalaska’s international port, Dutch Harbor. Maybe you’ve heard of Dutch Harbor, made famous by the Discovery Channel’s Deadliest Catch. Here more than 350 fishing vessels haul in the greatest amount of fish of any port in the nation, bringing back crab, halibut, salmon, and rockfish from the Bering Sea.
Known as “the Cadillac of the Coast Guard” for its comfortable accommodations, the icebreaker Healy will be our home for the next five weeks. (Photo by Haley Smith Kingsland)
Perhaps you’ve seen images of Unalaska’s Holy Ascension Russian Orthodox Cathedral — a remnant from Alaska’s early explorers — or know of Fort Schwatka, constructed to protect Unalaska from Japanese attacks in World War II. ICESCAPE scientists explored the town Sunday morning, stocked up on snacks, batteries, and extra layers at local supply stores, and some even hiked Bunker Hill for a panoramic view. Treeless, snowcapped mountains extend into the ocean and the sun shines until 11:30 p.m.
A community member rests outside the Holy Ascension Russian Orthodox Cathedral after Sunday Mass. The cathedral was built between 1894-1896 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. (Photo by Haley Smith Kingsland)
The science party moved aboard the Healy Sunday afternoon and spent Monday unpacking and setting up their gear, much of which was shipped from their research institutions long ago. Life aboard is bustling as they configure all kinds of equipment like spectrophotometers, the Imaging FlowCytoBot, and the automated UV oxygen titrator in the Healy’s science labs. In spare moments they move into three-person staterooms with many spacious compartments, configure ship e-mail, and learn how to use the pagers the Coast Guard issued to each person. We all have unique numbers to get in touch quickly on this 420-foot ship!
On the foredeck of the Healy, chief scientist Kevin Arrigo’s research team assembles incubators to do experiments with phytoplankton. (Photo by Haley Smith Kingsland)
The Healy leaves port at 8 a.m. Tuesday morning for 37 days at sea. You can learn more about Dutch Harbor and the history of the Aleutians at www.unalaska.info.