This past Monday, after going to get my hand looked at (X-rays show no breaks – whew!), I got back to the Refuge and was at the kiosk greeting visitors. It was pretty quiet for a few minutes until my work cell rang and it was Sue, our resident Biologist. There was a dead baby orca way out on the beach almost at the lighthouse. It was decided to get it off the beach due to the storms that were blowing in.
Whenever marine mammals wash up on shore we have to notify NOAA and they pick it up (just like I previously mentioned in another post about the Dahl’s porpoise we found). I believe the orca are endangered, so it was even more important to get this one off the beach before not only the storms rolled in, but the scavengers and onlookers as well.
I waited for help to arrive and we hopped in the 6-wheel drive Polaris Ranger. It was my first time driving it an extended distance and I was, of course, a little excited about that. It rides nice, but has a lot of engine noise inside – much more than the Mule does. We stopped to grab the trailer, gas, rope, a board, and net. We ended up using all of these things.
We got out there and the wind was horrendous and blowing sand all over – glad I had glasses on and not my contacts in or my eyes woulda been burning bad. The whale was about 7 feet long, and when we first pulled up to it I thought “Damn… that thing is big” (I guess, after all, that IS why they are called “whales”).
We rolled it onto the net, put the board down like a ramp, and pulled it up into the trailer with relative ease. We secured it and started the 5.5 mile trek back to the shop on the mainland. We got back and NOAA arrived and took it away for a necropsy; we will not hear any results for a few weeks.
Yesterday Meghan texted me a picture of a wolf track she found. She is in Minnesota doing an outdoor wolf research class and they were in the woods when she found it. The track looked like it was four inches long and 2 – 3 inches wide. It was enormous. She is having a lot of fun, is learning a lot, and is definitely in her element. She is pretty amped up over doing this. I could tell her excitement just by her texts.
It is pretty cool when “just another day” has so much crammed into them!