For Bird's Sakes!
Why go out in one of these boats (see image on right) to a remote coast in Alaska…in the winter, you ask? (I mean, it’s cold there even in the SUMMER, right?) Well, just like you check on your gerbils, fish, or any living thing you are responsible for, parks do too. We want to know who’s out there, where they are, and how they’re doing. We go out in winter and in summer because the types of birds that live along the coast change with the seasons.
Now, remember those pet fish we referred to earlier? Imagine you came home one day only to discover that they had all died! You’d probably want to know why and keep a close eye on the next batch. Something very similar happened in Katmai in 2016. The researchers found dead birds on EVERY SINGLE beach they went to. A LOT of them.
Now this is a little more like it! This is the Dream Catcher, the team’s home base during the four days of the survey. Boy were they glad to see this site at the end of each day!
So, what exactly did they see out there? Lots of beautiful and sometimes even odd-looking birds, sea otters, wolves, whales and a few other inquisitive visitors……….Watch the video below to see who accompanied one of the skiffs!
- 1 minute, 30 seconds
Watch this video to see what happened! It was quite an experience for the research team to have so many sea lions come right up to their boat and follow them! How would you have felt if you had been on that skiff? A little nervous? Excited? Probably both. This is a great display of sea lions' playful and curious nature. (Be warned though - they can be aggressive. Do NOT approach them.) Videos like this reveal marine mammals' character and intelligence and encourage us to protect them.
Have you got the codes figured out yet? Take the first two letters of each word in the bird's name and you've got it's code name. Get it? "Em" for emperor and "go" for goose. Try it yourself on the next bird!
(If you guessed "HADU", you're right!)
That makes these surveys really valuable. Remember when we said that bird species can recover if conditions are right? These surveys tell park managers where the popular wildlife hangouts are. Once they know this, they can study the conditions in these areas and make regulations, like setting speed limits on boats, to protect the birds and marine mammals in these areas.
But they can’t do it all. After all, warm water, oil and plastic trash don’t respect park boundaries. You can help by learning how to protect wildlife where you live! Volunteer during beach and stream cleanups in your area! Even using less plastic (straws are one of the most common types of trash found on beaches) and riding your bike or walking (when it’s safe and you have permission) instead of driving can make a difference. You don't have to be a wildlife biologist to help save wild places and protect the amazing animals we share this planet with.