By Olav Ormseth
By now I suppose even the hermits sitting in their caves high up in the mountains know that the federal government was shut down for 17 days in October. Federal employees were furloughed (and indeed, prohibited from working) and federal research vessels had to return to port. As I wrote in my last post, for us on the inshore survey it meant cutting our fall east-side survey roughly in half: we were able to survey Salisbury Sound, St. Lazaria, and Whale Bay, but were unable to reach Islas Bay, Torch Bay, and Graves Harbor. The offshore survey on the east-side (which used 2 vessels, one for fishing and one for oceanography) was completed before the shutdown, as was the fall visit to the Seward Line. However, the fall west-side offshore survey was severely curtailed, first because of weather and then the shutdown. I haven’t heard yet exactly which stations they were able to complete, but I understand they were limited to the areas closer to shore and in the vicinity of Kodiak city.
We are going to be able to salvage a large part of our fall west-side inshore survey (which was originally supposed to start October 15), but we can’t start until. We were unable to ship our gear from Juneau to Kodiak due to the shutdown, and because it is a lengthy process to get the wheels of bureaucracy turning again, we couldn’t ship until yesterday. Prior obligations mean we can’t stay out later than the 11th, so we’ll have a 10-day survey instead of the planned 15 days. Unfortunately the weather is pretty much guaranteed to be awful in November; hence the second part of this post’s title. Goat-roper hats (the Peruvian-style ones with the earflaps) and mitts will be standard issue in the skiff, and we’ll likely spend a day or two at anchor hiding from the wind.
It’s still too early to tell what all this means for the project; at least we will have some data from the fall in both regions (east/west) and inshore/offshore. Until we dig into the data we won’t really know how important the missing data are. But we are all frankly frustrated that after so much hard work our research was damaged by something so unnecessary and beyond our control.