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Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Strange Things

We saw some strange things on Afognak.  I think the strangest was when we were attracted to a particular beach because a bunch of crows and eagles were making a commotion.  On arrival we noticed that all the water was this weird milky color.  I was thinking, 'bird poop?'  But then I noticed thousands of needlefish or capelin (small minnow like fish anyway) darting around in the water.  We also noticed that some of the crows had minnows in their beaks.  The birds had been attracted to the minnows by the beach.  And I think the milky water was fish sperm and that the minnows were spawning in the beach gravel.  I must admit late September does seem a little late for needlefish to spawn.

Another thing we saw that really is not all that weird is amazing coral and tidepools at low tide.  I don't usually walk exposed beaches at low tide and I was surprised by the profusion of pink coral and anemones.  Also lots of chitons, mussels, and other things to eat in those tidepools.  By the time the boat was late picking us up I was beginning to wonder if we might need to hit the tidepools to find dinner.

Mike and I found very few old archaeological sites during our survey.  Almost all the sites were less than 500 years old - and all them look like they eroded into the ocean after the 1964 earthquake.  In 1964 Afognak sank on the order of 5 feet into the ocean and the coast line suffered severe erosion.  Dead spruce trees in the intertidal zone killed by the 1964 subsidence event were a common sight.  Due to the periodic episodes of severe erosion (every 400 years or so when there is a HUGE earthquake) I just don't think archaeological sites last all that long on Afognak Island.  Patrick

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