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> May 19, 2006 - Stowaway, Who is Hitching a Ride on the Healy?
Samantha_Dassler_Barlow
post May 21 2006, 04:30 AM
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Group: TREC Team
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Member No.: 23



Date: Friday, May 19, 2006

GPS Coordinates
Longitude: 172° 56.1’ W
Latitude: 62° 58.6’ N

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Our path is getting more and more jumbled looking as we go back to stations that we missed due to ice or bad weather. The green island you see is St. Lawrence Island.

Patty and I spent most of today doing not-so-fun stuff. We wrote a mid-cruise report to hand in to our chief scientist that documented what we, the TREC Educators, have accomplished in the realm of outreach so far. The more questions you post on our message boards, the more good stuff we have to put in our report! We also had to make a few PowerPoint slides of that information to present to the science crew on Sunday. Then, we had some work to do for ARCUS. We were good students and did our homework today so that we would be prepared for deadlines and for our presentation on Sunday.

We had a nice little break from the typing today, however. A stowaway was discovered, portside, on one of the rigid-hull inflatable boats.

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There is a small round ball-shaped thing on the steering wheel of the boat in this picture. Look really close! If you can guess what it is, then you will know who our stowaway was today!

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When you look a little closer, you see who is pretending to drive the rigid-hull inflatable boat…feathers to the wind! What kind of bird do you think it is?

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When you look even closer, you can see that it is an owl! It is very strange to have a terrestrial (land) bird out here in the middle of the ocean, but the people on the ship have given us several accounts of birds hitching a ride as far as from Seattle to Hawaii! The owl has very distinct markings and tufts on its head. Liz Labunski and other wildlife experts broke out the books and I think they finally agreed that it is most likely a long-eared owl. But what is it doing way out here? See if the geographical range of this bird covers the Bering Sea…

Our wildlife experts here on the ship debated about what species of owl this is. One thought that it might be a great horned owl, because of the markings and the geographic range, but the size is too small unless it is a juvenile. Another thought that it might be a long-eared owl because of the markings, the tufts on its head, and the size, but it is way out of its geographic range. You should look up these two birds in a field guide or on an Internet site and compare them to the picture and let me know what kind of bird you think it is on the message board. I think that Matt in Oakwood’s 8th grade is my local bird expert… What do you think, Matt?

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Liz, Alex, and Patty look in the field guides together to try and figure out what kind of bird this is.

Our poor little stowaway is at best 30 nautical miles from the nearest island. We are not sure when it came aboard or how long it has been here. It kept its head tucked into its shoulder and seemed too tired to be bothered by any of the onlookers. Then, by the end of the day, it was gone. What a unique stowaway!

Soon, we will finish catching up on the stations that we missed due to ice or foul weather. Then, we will transit north, on the west side of St. Lawrence Island and sample at several stations north of the island.
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