Saint George island and beyond
by Guest Blogger
July 10, 2006
The following posting is from Adam, who is onboard in the Bering Sea…
We arrived at St. George before dawn. Slight breeze, very chilly… We got in around 7 and were met by the harbor master Andy, who was standing by a big sign on the dock that read "rat infested ships are not allowed to dock". Of course the jokes flowed over who could and who couldn’t get off the boat…
Myself, George, and Steph drove across the island with Andy to pick up our gear that had been shipped here, and for George to say hi to his friends and begin setting up a community meeting for tomorrow night. He was born here so they’re many greetings and introductions. They were a friendly bunch all getting ready for a big party night in honor of July 4th (it was raining and stormy so they put it off). I think these people must be among the toughest in the world. This isolated island is bare and windswept, surrounded by cliffs and the Bering Sea. In the middle of summer there is still snow on the ground.
Around 10 a.m. we were all back on board and ready for our first real look for Orca with Craig. I spent several hours up in the crow’s nest in a survival suit hat, scarf, gloves and hood, scanning the ocean for the telltale tall dorsal fins. It was amazing. The cliffs had rookeries with more than a million birds. A few vertical acres of chirping and squawking kittywakes. On the water were another couple of million birds all diving and feeding. It’s hard to express the sheer scale of sea life here. When we turned off the engines it was like being engulfed in sound. Between the bird rookeries were the fur seal colonies. I reckon between us we must have taken hundreds of photos.
No whales, so we’ve decided to up anchor and make the 40 mile trip to St. Paul where there are bigger seal colonies and the fishermen have reported more recent sightings. We have found out that there are few fish left in the waters close to the islands, so the Aleuts that are subsistence fishing are going way out to sea to the continental shelf. The big commercial trawlers have done what they do everywhere and taken everything with no thought for anyone else or the future. I hope and pray for the Aleut that the our campaign to bring in ecosystem based fisheries management is successful.
Well I’d better get rugged up and back up to the crow’s nest. We need all eyes on the water for this transit!
Note: Adam is a radio operator and RIB driver. He has worked with Greenpeace in Australia and internationally since 2003. He is also an industrial rope access specialist, which involves rigging for skyscrapers and large scale events such as the Olympics, as well as a licensed yacht skipper.