Trying to get into the field

We have been getting gear ready for days.  The next challenge is to get it (and ourselves) to the field.  The weather and equipment have not been cooperating.  The shore fast ice is just really melting this week, so we hadn’t been able to take anything down before.  Then the wind changed to the west, leading to one helicopter-assisted rescue in front of my house and ice against the shore.  We staged gear in the “yellow shed” (a small warehouse shared by archaeology and the ARM program) and we waited.  Yesterday, the wind went east for a bit and pushed the ice off the beach, so we rushed to load the UIC Science boat Crescent Island and sent heavy, durable & waterproof things down to the site.  Four of the crew went along and they and the two UICS logistics staff who were running the boat put the stuff in a secure spot and headed home just as the wind changed back.  They made it before the ice came back in.

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Crescent Island loaded up at NARL.  The John Deere is just for moving her and a sister boat, and is the only tractor in town.
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Launching the boat.
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Crescent Island under way on her first working trip for UIC Science.

Today, the wind wasn’t as strong as predicted, so Kaare and a bunch of the crew were going to head down with a little more gear, set up tents, and Ben Fitzhugh, Garrett Knudsen, Zac Peterson & Katie Daniels were going to stay and start stripping sod.  We packed up after lunch, but various ATVs decided to not behave (one only wanted to run well in reverse) so it took a while.

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Kaare loading the trailer while Zac looks on.
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Garrett and Katie getting ready to bring up the rear (and pick up anything that falls off).

By the time they got to Nunavak it was pretty late, and the stream was still really deep to cross, but it was draining, so they came home and will try again tomorrow.  We may try to do two trips to get more folks down, but there will be one more boat trip Sunday or Monday, so some folks will go down that way.

Meanwhile, I had discovered that the newly-returned batteries for the transit were really not in as good shape as the tests at the surveying equipment shop indicated.  I spent some time chasing down replacement batteries.  In the end, GPS Alaska had a charger for the new batteries in stock, could order me new batteries, and had two that they use which they are renting to us at a very low price until our come in and get shipped to us.  My boss is in Anchorage and going to fly his plane up, so he was able to pick them up and bring them along.  All the other stuff is in decent shape, so we should be able to work and record what we are doing.

Mysterious sea Creatures

One of the things we collected a lot of from the strand lines was a variety of sea creatures.  There are a lot of pieces of what we thought (in the field) was gut, which is a useful raw material.  Now that we’ve gotten them into the lab, we think most of it is some sort of marine worms.  There are also a variety of other small marine creatures (plants or invertebrates–they have lost their orignal colors) and mollusks.

Marine worm? from 300-400 AD
Another sort of sea creature
Some sort of seaweed?
Maybe some type of sponge-like creature?

Obviously, I know a lot more about mammal bones & teeth than these things.  So we’ve sorted out a bunch, and Claire will take a couple of each type to Fairbanks, along with the shells. With any luck, we can get some IDs.  If we’re really lucky, the species in question will turn out to have fairly narrow habitat requirements, and we’ll know something about what the ocean was like near Barrow when the big storm happened between 300 & 400 AD.

If you happen to recognize any of these, please let me know what you think they are.  If you know anyone who might be interested in these creatures, send them my way.  The “worms” are very well-preserved, and still flexible.  It occurs to me that it might be possible to extract DNA from them (and maybe some of the other creatures as well), which would be a pretty rare opportunity.