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AK MARITIME: 169 Days at Sea -Managing a Refuge ofAlaska Islands
Alaska Region, November 1, 2005
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Most refuge employees go to the field in pickup trucks.  On the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge going to the field involves a boat – a 120 foot long ship.  The M/V Tiglax (pronounced Tek-la) has been transporting biologists to their remote field camps on islands scattered along 30,000 miles of Alaska’s coast for 19 years.   Field work typically involves a stay of up to four months for a crew of two to six people on uninhabited islands that make up the 4.5 million acre refuge.  Once or twice a summer  the Tiglax re-visits  the camps bringing an opportunity for biologists to go aboard, take real showers, do laundry, pick up mail and fresh food and socialize with the crew and other passengers who number as many as 18.

Supporting field camps is but just one of the Tiglax’s jobs.  As the number one vessel operating in Alaska’s near-shore waters, the Tiglax is sought after for charters by other agencies, free rides by cooperating universities and other research groups and as a platform to conduct research known as SMOCCI (Seabird, Marine Mammal, and Oceanographic Coordinated Investigations) in the near-shore waters.  .  In addition to assisting numerous U.S. agencies and organizations with their marine research, the Tiglax also partnered with scientists from Canada, Japan, Russia, and Sir Lanka.  This year was exceptionally busy in that the Tiglax spent two winter months, including Christmas, in the Aleutian Islands supporting assessment of the damages from the oil spill resulting from the wreck of the Selendang Ayu on Unalaska Island.  The Tiglax ended its 2005 season in October and is now docked at refuge headquarters in Homer, Alaska. 

During the 2005 season, the Tiglax was underway for 169 days, working 58 islands and traveling a total of 18,327 miles through Cook Inlet, the Gulf of Alaska, the North Pacific Ocean, and the Bering Sea.  The Tiglax assisted 16 field camps and also participated in such projects as invasive rat research, ground squirrel investigations, ptarmigan translocation, and surveys of seabirds, common eider, sea otter, marine mammals, and cormorants

Contact Info: Kristen Gilbert, 907-786-3391, Kristen_Gilbert@fws.gov



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