Strawberry 2.0

Here we go again. Time to return to Strawberry Island, the whales, oyster catchers, Teddy (black bear), and the smell of fresh crisp air. Since Michelle dragged me off of Strawberry Island last year (kicking and screaming- No, I didn’t want to leave even after 3 months) I have been lucky enough to return to Glacier Bay National Park twice, once for the hydrophone recovery and a second time for our ‘attempted deployment’.

I like to work, and on the island there was more than enough to do. I enjoyed the isolation that was provided. NO cell phone or internet was amazing; don’t get me wrong when I’m home I’m checking the  news and cell first thing in the morning. But being forced to disconnect for weeks at a time has a blissful/calming effect. Connecting to this little island and the daily flow of the environment is soooo much better. It’s worth giving up

Thankfully this year I won’t have to wake up before the sun rises for my own project. Last year I was looking at diel variation in calling rates of humpback whales (calls per whales per minute) and I am happy to say I found some significant results. Humpback whales in Glacier Bay National Park call at a higher rate during dawn hours. Having more or less wrapped up with project (I presented a poster at the Northwest Student Marine Mammal Conference just last weekend) Michelle and I are moving on to a few new projects. This years side project will involve two terrestrial microphones that will be set up on Strawberry Island to capture humpback whales only known aerial vocalization, trumpets. Hopefully these trumpets will be paired with behavioral observations made from the theodolites.

Additionally, this year Michelle, two dogs (Vista, Luna), and myself will be driving my truck from Corvallis, Oregon to Gustavius, Alaska. Driving my truck up full of beasts, supplies, food, and then driving back with two years worth of research equipment and supplies will save the project money. Plus, as an added bonus, I get to drive my truck to Alaska. The old truck, 203,000 miles currently on her, will have gone from Key West to Alaska and that fact puts a little smile on my face. We leave May 31st and I’m sure there will be pictures and high jenkins from the road to follow.

David Culp


A day at the office


WOW!!!!! That’s probably all I should post.

on of our daily 'drive bye's'

One of our daily ‘drive-bys’

One of my favorites so far, Michelle and I watching a late night humpback.

One of my favorites so far, Michelle and I watching a late night humpback.

The weather has been amazing, not so much for the whales (although we are still seeing 2-8 humpbacks a day). We had the first six days comprised of blue skies, hot temperatures, and very cold swims. Then the Alaska we all expected has set in. Colder and wetter days with very little sun, much better weather for whales and the very bright 10:30pm nights (see pic). The first few weeks have brought numerous changes to are sampling as we all learn the system and what works in this location and what doesn’t.  Along with the adjustments due to technical hick ups, but Michelle always adjusts quickly and everyone steps up nicely too. It has all been trying, tiring, and very rewarding at the same time.