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> July 28 Kunashir and Iturup Isla (part 1), or A couple of quiet days
post Jul 31 2006, 08:16 PM
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July 28 – Kunashir and Iturup Isla
or A couple of quiet days

Friday, 28 July – Aboard the Gipanis, transiting north along the Sea of Okhotsk side of Kunashir Island
8:45 pm

Today the fog returned.

When I looked out my window, it was difficult to tell, but I was pretty sure that we were still in the same place that we were when I had gone to bed. I hadn’t heard or felt the ship engine start up or the ship move during the night – I was pretty tired, but I haven’t slept through something like THAT, yet. When I peered carefully out into the fog, I could see the same ships that were anchored in Izmeny Bay as last night.

After breakfast, the engines started up and we began transiting north along the Sea of Okhotsk side of Kunashir, back toward the lake at Sernovodsk, called Peschenoye. The plan was to visit the western side of this narrow area of Kunashir Island. So apparently, we had the morning off, while we waited to get there.

We spent the morning doing random, but important tasks, such as backing up files, finishing work from yesterday, patching or repairing clothes or gear, etc. We had an early call to lunch and then got ready to head to shore.

Once we were ashore, we split into our two groups with the archaeologists heading inland and then north along Peschenoye Bay and the geologists heading south. Jody joined the archaeologists for the day and Beth, Bre, Jesse and I started hiking toward a large eroded exposure that we could see cut into the high hillsides. We walked along the beach, since we were hoping to find Japanese glass floats. Our hopes were more than fulfilled.

As we walked along, we began to find a few floats. Our excitement grew, however, as we discovered a backwash up into the vegetated section of the beach with a lot of debris, garbage, driftwood and GLASS FLOATS galore! We called it the glass float graveyard and picked up quite a few. As we continued down the beach, we saw more and more glass floats – so many that quite soon it became hard to pick them up! Beth, Bre and I actually started being more selective about which ones we picked up. Beth decided that she only wanted small ones with rope netting, Bre only picked up small ones and I chose to collect ones that were either small, an unusual color or bright and shiny. Surprisingly, Jesse seemed to be immune to the glass float mania – he picked up one netted glass float that he liked and began throwing the rest into the ocean. By the time we left the beach, the three women had about 15 pounds of glass floats to pack around and Jesse still had just the one. smile.gif (See picture below – left)

We trekked off of the beach and up into the hillside to dig excavations. We wanted to see if there were any tephra layers below the sand and soil layers. This time, though, we were disappointed. We hiked/climbed up several hills including one that was at least 45 meters high to look for tephra, but none was found. (See picture below – right)

Since we had gotten a late start, we decided to head back to the beach and join back up with the other groups to find out if there was a plan for heading back to the ship soon. Jody took Bre and Jesse to one of the archaeology sites to take some samples and describe the stratigraphy. Beth decided that she wanted to take a swim in the Sea of Okhotsk and I decided to join her. It was, needless to say (?), “Brisk”. Now I have swum in the Pacific Ocean, the Atlantic Ocean, the Arctic Ocean, the Caribbean Sea and the Sea of Okhotsk (among other smaller, various bodies of water).

A short time later, the rest of the group began to filter back to the beach, so we began the zodiac shuttling back to the ship. As soon as everyone was back on board the Gipanis, the crew fired up the engine and we headed off north along Kunashir and back toward Iturup.

IPB Image
On the left: A Japanese glass float lying on the beach. Japanese fishermen used these floats for their nets from the early 1900s. Only a few traditional fishermen use these floats now, but hundreds of thousands can be found in large piles on Hokkaido and other islands in Japan as well as washed up on beaches all around the Pacific Ocean. (Image courtesy of Mike Etnier.)

On the right: Jesse, Beth and Bre prepare to begin describing the series of excavations that we dug along the side of a steep hillside about 45 meters above the shore line. The series of excavations covered about 3-4 meters and was mostly sand. sad.gif

Mrs. N-O
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