Halfway through the 1st stint on Strawberry Island I am woken up by the sounds of surfacing and trumpeting Humpback whales. These sound are like none other I have ever heard. I normally have a knack for explaining things and using analogies to help anyone to understand what I’m experiencing. This experience so far have left me unable to do this. The only thing I can say is, if you get a chance to participate in a project like this one in a place like Glacier Bay then do it and then let me know how you would explain it.
During our time here I have experienced sounds both above and under water, and I’ve heard not only whales, but also seals, sea lions, and otters. There is something about being in a remote location that allows a person to turn off the filters we use in everyday soundscapes and just enjoy the symphony produced by mother nature. We have been here for a week now today I have the morning shift off and this is my first opportunity to sit by myself with a cup of coffee and reflect and enjoy the scenery.
I am sitting here on a rock with a cup of coffee, a month old unshaved beard, a week worth of grim and crud buildup on me and still a week away before I see my biweekly shower. I look out toward the Beardslee island entrance and see a cruise ship passing by. Anecdotally, I have noticed every time the cruise ships pass by the wildlife seem to decrease their activates. I have no idea if this is indeed the case but I can’t help but chuckle. There are hundreds of people who have paid a lot of money for a place on the floating 5-star resort to see “Wild Alaska”; yet the “Wild Alaska” seems to be hiding. For the local economy I hope they see and experience all that they hope for. My chuckle soon turns to out load laughter as I see the ship sail out of sight and not more than 5 minuets later I see a humpback whale surface followed by an awe inspiring fluke dive. Seconds later a group of 3 sea lions swim by, one with a fresh caught salmon hanging out of his mouth. I was not on the floating hotel nor was I on a sightseeing day trip boat. I’m just sitting trying to wake up and drink a cup of coffee before work.
I am quickly (and daily) reminded of a statement a retired wildlife biologist told me during my field season last year with a big grin, one that Chester cat would be envious of, “I wonder what poor people are doing right now”. I asked him what he meant by it after the first couple times he told me that. He explained to me that even though the pay is normally low or non-existent, how can you consider yourself poor when everyday for work you get to enjoy the wonders of nature. He explained that if we’re doing our job right we get to see the species who call this place home interact without outside influence, giving us a glimpse into their past present and future.