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> Saturday, June 17th, 2006, Clusters of Caribou
post Jun 18 2006, 08:15 PM
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On Saturday, June 17th, we experienced an eleven hour day in the field. We conducted experiments such as soil core sampling, plant species identification, and burying litter bags to study decomposition rates in the future. When I refer to “in the field”, I mean anywhere that is not our camp. We drove two hours north on the Dalton Highway to our first site.

It was a really exciting day for me, because I was able to see herds of caribou chomping on vegetation in the tundra during our drive. We probably observed at least one hundred caribou taking their annual summer trip. Hanna, a graduate student from Korea, spotted a small set of antlers on our walk. She was kind enough to give them to me for my students to see this fall.
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On our journey, we spotted several Dall sheep, Canada geese, voles, and possibly a baby grizzly bear. The bear and sheep were too far away for a picture, but we utilized binoculars. A vole is a small rodent resembling a mouse. It has smaller ears and eyes plus a shorter tail. Dall sheep live in the subarctic and Arctic regions of Alaska and western Canada. They have magnificent curly horns which are made of keratin (same substance as our fingernails). The Dall sheep live on very rocky steep slopes. It is the only wild white sheep in the world.

When you are in the field conducting experiments, there are no toilets. There are no trees in this part of the Arctic Circle either. smile.gif You must walk a huge distance from your group or use a large rock or grouping of shrubs. When I stopped at the National Park Service in Coldfoot, I purchased a “Toilet in a Bag” product. I had never seen an item such as this so I thought it would be neat to show people. I realize this is not a pleasant topic, but I thought you would find it interesting.

Neat facts about Alaska:

The Trans-Alaskan pipeline is 800 miles from Prudhoe Bay to Valdez. Find the towns on a map.

The Denali Seed Company sells special seeds to Alaskans since people have a shorter time to plant a garden in Alaska in the summer. The seeds have a shorter growing season since summer lasts for about two months! Alaskans produce gigantic vegetables, because they have twenty-four hours of sunlight in the summer!

Note: When you see the thumbnail size pictures in the “Photo Gallery” section of the website, you can double click on them to enlarge them for a better view. If you have questions about any of the pictures or my journals, you can e-mail me at talleytrec@arcus.org which will enable you to correspond directly to my personal e-mail account. If you want to post a question for the public to see, you need to click on “Ask the teacher or scientist” section of the webpage which is the second choice after “Teacher Journal”. “Photo Gallery” is the third choice after “Teacher Journal”.

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