November 23rd – My Job.

As much as we all like to complain about our jobs, mine is pretty good. I have been waiting tables longer than I would like to admit and going to nursing school is definitely a way out of my current career.Screen shot 2013-11-24 at 9.19.58 AMI hear stories of unemployment, underemployment, and people hating their life because of their job. I don’t have those problems, and for that I am thankful. So if you are in the northwest and want the best sushi around. Come to Nishino.Screen shot 2013-11-24 at 9.20.13 AM

Weather or not.

Yes the title is intentional. I understand the difference in whether and weather. The point is that my everyday activities can be heavily influenced by the weather. The weather can stop boats from fishing. Keep in mind that these boats can be over 100 feet long. Shoot, some can be 300 feet long. It takes some serious weather to slow these guys down. If they aren’t fishing, they aren’t making money. They want to be out there.

Boats that are trawling nets are commonly called “draggers”. They drag a net behind them. There are rumors that they drag them along the bottom occasionally. These draggers will ruin their nets when they wind is whipping at 50 knots (like it currently is). So most of the boats will head to Dutch Harbor and wait out the weather. That means they aren’t fishing. It makes it tough to be a fisheries observer without the fishies.

So there are no boats coming in. That means I have plenty of free time. Well, I have to keep a radio on me so that someone can always contact me. But I can go explore the island. Of course the problem is the weather. The wind has been clocked up to 100 mph here on the island while I have been here. It howls as they say. So the snow is blowing in every direction and I am free to do what I want.

I live in a small box that has a bed, TV, and desk. The TV gets about a dozen channels. They come and go as the weather changes. Sometimes, I get the food network which is more of a tease than a strip club. (See previous post). Mostly, I get 4 different ESPN channels, and HBO. Not being a big sports fan, I find myself watching HBO more than anything.

The weather affects which channels come in on the TV. The weather prevents boats from fishing. The weather dictates if I leave my room or not. I think that Seattle in the winter won’t slow me down when I return to what I have been referring to as “The real world”.

They were filming Deadliest Catch yesterday. It is King Crab season. I wonder how the y will make it seem exciting.

Professional Biologist.

So I passed my test and I am officially a National Marine Fisheries Groundfish Observer. Tomorrow, I get on a plane with 100 pounds of research tools in the infamous (amongst NMFS staff) blue baskets. I am excited to start working. And nervous. I am hoping to see some bears and get in a bit of fishing if there is any spare time on shore. Maybe even both at the same time. Good thing I have a bear bell and a beautiful singing voice.

We all got our foul weather gear (foulies) and tried them on in the living room.

Do we look ready?

Every day we are amazed that we are in Alaska. We take pictures just walking down the street because we like the backdrop.

Oh yeah and the town where I am headed tomorrow has surfing. I hope that they rent thick wetsuits.

First week in Anchorage.

Wow, 5 days can really be a long time! 5 days without laundry. The itchiest 5 days of not shaving. 5 days of only learning how to collect data for managing fisheries. 5 days of barely having enough time to eat meals. These are long hard days. But… it is awesome.

There are a lot of rules about what I can and cannot say. My pictures will also be limited. As anything else in the government, there are acronyms up the wazoo. (The acronyms are typical although there are many that think the government putting things up our wazoo is typical as well).

4 of us are living in a small apartment. We have bunk beds. And sleeping bags. All of this would matter if we weren’t too tired to care every day after class. My job will be to take a sample of whatever is in the net, pot, or on the hooks when the fishermen retrieve them. I collect the data and turn it to someone that double checks my work before it is uploaded to a huge database that should help keep the fishery sustainable.

I need to learn ho to properly do that though. So this 3 week intensive course will get us all up to speed.

The roomiesOur house.

Post office.

Downtown park.

A local hero. Not really.

Going to Alaska!

Here is my new job:

The Fisheries Monitoring and Analysis Division (FMA) monitors groundfish fishing activities in the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) off Alaska and conducts research associated with sampling commercial fishery catches, estimation of catch and bycatch mortality, and analysis of fishery-dependent data. The Division is responsible for training, briefing, debriefing and oversight of observers who collect catch data onboard fishing vessels and at onshore processing plants and for quality control/quality assurance of the data provided by these observers. Division staff process data and make it available to the Sustainable Fisheries Division of the Alaska Regional Office for quota monitoring and to scientists in other AFSC divisions for stock assessment, ecosystem investigations, and an array of research investigations.

I am leaving in a week for Alaska. I have a 3 week training program and then I am out to sea for up to 90 days. More info here. Leave comments below!